Rabies is one of the world’s most deadly and feared diseases.

Rabies is an infectious viral disease which is endemic in Sri Lanka. Once an animal or human develops symptoms, death is inevitable. But, it does not have to be this way; a rabies vaccination can save a life.

Mass Rabies Vaccination Programs are the answer

Rabies is an infectious viral disease which is endemic Sri Lanka. Once an animal or human develops symptoms, death is inevitable. It does not have to be this way; a rabies vaccination can save a life.

Rabies is transmitted from animals to humans through saliva. Humans can contract the life threatening disease if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. The virus then attacks the central nervous system, and is usually very unforgiving. Rabies statistics show that the majority of human deaths caused by the disease occur in rural areas where awareness of the virus is non-existent. Rabies is a 100% vaccine-preventable disease. There is no reason the rabies death rate, especially amongst children, should be so high.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that mass canine vaccination programs are the most effective measure for eradicating rabies. Vaccinating 70% of the dogs in an area is necessary to control the disease in both humans and dogs, and should be sufficient  in breaking the cycle of transmission.

If dog rabies is prevented, there would be almost no human cases, hence the need to control rabies through canine vaccinations. By vaccinating street dogs in areas of Sri Lanka there is less chance of exposure, especially for children. There are several strategies for dog vaccination, the most common being orally. To effectively combat the problem, the vaccination programs must be implemented alongside community engagement efforts, education programs, and dog overpopulation strategies.

Mission Rabies Sri Lanka

rabies sri lankaFor the 3rd year running Dogstar Foundation is proud to be the Mission Rabies country partner in Sri Lanka. We work with teams to provide “pop up” vaccination centres and door to door vaccination programs. By using the Mission Rabies App on a smartphone, we can record GPS location of every rabies vaccine given in Sri Lanka, as well as the dog’s gender, sterilisation-status and body condition before marking the dog with a temporary paint marker. This work allows us to conduct scientific evidence-based re-sight surveys to ensure our programs achieve the desired coverage. Dogs marked with temporary paint after a rabies vaccination drive

Success rates to date have been remarkable. Working alongside the Mission team of staff and volunteers, we were able to cover the entire city of Negombo, and reach the overall vaccination target of 77%. Since 2015, the Mission Rabies Sri Lanka mass vaccination program has immunised over 19,000 animals.

We strive to continue this work in the coming years to ensure we can put a stop to rabies’ deaths once and for all. Stay up to date with the program on the Mission Rabies Facebook page if you wish to get involved in future programs. The spread of rabies is one of the saddening consequences of dog overpopulation in Sri Lanka. By persistently battling the spread of the virus, we can increase community health, and save lives.

Mission Rabies Sri Lanka field team 2017

  • 9 International volunteers joined our local teams to vaccinate 4,523 dogs across the Northern Katana district, combining this with 427 canine sterilisations delivered by Dogstar’s mobile spay neuter team 
  • 3 teams walked through every ward going door-to-door looking for owned dogs, a static vaccination point was made using the field sterilisation team and the newest addition to the team – the flying squad – was used to cover every ward catching the free-roaming dogs
  • The combination of these specialist teams meant that 79% overall coverage was achieved!!

For more information about how to get involved with Mission Rabies projects globally please click here