In a consolidated effort, several partners1 set up a comprehensive rabies course including an intensive 11-day program in Côte d’Ivoire, bringing together 25 animal and human public health professionals from Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, from Rwanda, Senegal, Chad and Togo.
The course participants had already followed many online preparatory sessions. This in-person program therefore aimed to turn that knowledge into action through hands-on hands-on experience.
Key areas covered included strategic planning, access to PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis for bite victims), mass vaccination of dogs and laboratory work.
“This international training on rabies aims to foster the emergence of collaborations between young professionals from different disciplines and sectors, and from various African countries. These actors are expected to contribute to strengthening the One Health approach in their respective countries to achieve the goal of zero cases of human rabies by 2030.”
Dr Madi Savadogo, Training Facilitator and Head of Rabies Free Burkina Faso
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is administered to patients suspected of exposure to the rabies virus and consists of careful washing of wounds, passive immunization if indicated and a series of vaccinations. Access to PEP is very limited in many countries, and it is also expensive.
The course encouraged participants to discuss current challenges in providing rabies PEP as well as practical solutions to increase access to care and PEP for bite victims. In Côte d’Ivoire, rabies is a priority disease and vaccination and monitoring of human rabies are coordinated by the Antirabies Center of the National Institute of Public Hygiene. Participants visited one of 30 rabies vaccination units specializing in PEP for bite victims.
dog vaccination is an essential pillar of Zero by 30: The Global Strategic Plan to End Human Deaths from Dog-mediated Rabies by 2030. The course urged all participants to view dog vaccination as a human public health issue as well as an animal health issue, with hands-on experience in planning and implementing dog vaccination campaigns and disease management. dog populations. Participants gained practical knowledge of dog behavior, safe dog handling, different vaccination techniques and ways to identify vaccinated dogs.
Participants put theory into practice by participating in a dog vaccination campaign run by local authorities in Bingerville. Dog owners were urged, via local radio announcements, social media posts and door-to-door, to bring their animals to local vaccination points.
Gbohounou Fabrice Gnali, course participant, working in the veterinary public health sector, recalled that ”the start of the campaign was tentative, but after word spread, many dog owners came over the following days asking for a free rabies vaccination.”
Dog owners received a vaccination certificate and many were also asked about their knowledge, attitudes and practices relating to rabies.
In addition to this, participants helped vaccinate free-roaming dogs in the locality. All vaccinated animals were marked with a ribbon collar.
“There are many dogs wandering the streets unaccompanied by their owners and it is unclear whether they have been vaccinated or not. In rural areas, both adults and children are not wary of dogs, whether vaccinated or not, and children tend to approach them; on the other hand, in urban areas, people are wary of dogs that do not belong to them.” Gbohounou Fabrice Gnali, DVM, Pasteur Institute of Côte d’Ivoire.
At central veterinary laboratory from Bingerville, course participants were able to compare and practice different diagnostic procedures and discuss the importance of data collection, including standardized case definitions, minimum indicators, and global data sharing. In many countries where rabies is endemic, laboratory testing of rabies-infected animals remains rare, but post-mortem investigations are important to improve epidemiological data on rabies and strengthen detection and surveillance.
The course aimed to increase awareness and communication about rabies in Africa and highlighted the need for multidisciplinary approaches and cross-sector cooperation. The participants exchanged experiences from their respective countries and discussed the various problems and opportunities in the fight against rabies in Africa, developing strategic and practical solutions.
Eliminating human rabies transmitted by dogs is complex but achievable. This requires sustained efforts to improve disease awareness, community engagement, responsible dog ownership, mass dog vaccination, cross-sector collaboration, appropriate wound management, and access to post-bite treatment (prophylaxis post-exposure). All of these topics were discussed, with the aim of empowering countries to move closer to the globally agreed goal of zero human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030.
The course was delivered by the Institut Pasteur and other key players.
Photo credit: WHO/Katrin Bote
1. The course was organized by the Pasteur Institute of Côte d’Ivoire, the National Institute of Public Hygiene of Côte d’Ivoire, the Directorate of Veterinary Services of Côte d’Ivoire and the Pasteur Institute of Paris, in collaboration with the University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako, Mali, the Central Veterinary Laboratory of Mali, the Swiss Center for Scientific Research in Côte d’Ivoire and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI), Germany, the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, the HSeT foundation, Switzerland, the University of Glasgow, the Pasteur Network and Afrique One- ASPIRE, with the active participation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC ).