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Monitoring Rabies of the People and Animals

#KR-1389.2


Monitoring of the Epizootiological Conditions and Prevention of Occurrence of Rabies in People and Animals

Tech Area / Field

  • MED-DIS/Disease Surveillance/Medicine
  • AGR-DIS/Disease Surveillance/Agriculture

Status
8 Project completed

Registration date
12.11.2007

Completion date
04.09.2013

Senior Project Manager
Weaver L M

Leading Institute
Kyrgyz Research Institute of Livestock, Veterinary and Pastures, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek

Supporting institutes

  • Osh Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Kyrgyzstan, Osh\nMinistry of Agriculture / Close Joint Stock Company Altyn-Tamyr, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek\nRepublican Center of Quarantine and Especially Dangerous Infections, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek

Collaborators

  • Center of Expertise for Rabies CFIA/ACIA, Canada, ON, Ottawa

Project summary

Rabies is a fatal disease that is caused by a neurotropic virus. All species of mammals, including wildlife, domestic animals and human beings are susceptible to rabies. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of rabid animals and can be transmitted through bites (most common) or through contamination of scratches or mucous membranes. The World Health Organization estimates that 55,000 people worldwide die of rabies each year, predominantly in developing countries where dogs are the main vectors.

Wild animals, including foxes, skunks, and bats can also serve as rabies reservoirs. There are rabies virus variants that are associated with and circulate among particular wildlife species, however, these variants are not species-specific. Thus, wild animals can infect both domestic animal and human populations. Rabies in livestock can result in significant economic losses, as can the costs associated with post-exposure treatment for people exposed to the rabies virus.

Vaccination has been an important tool in the control of rabies in dogs and in terrestrial wildlife. Extensive dog vaccination campaigns in different parts of the world, most notably in North America and Western Europe, have eliminated the canine variant rabies from these areas. As well, oral vaccination campaigns using vaccine-laden baits have been very effective in controlling fox rabies in Western Europe and Ontario, Canada and rabies in coyotes and grey foxes in Texas. For wildlife vaccination strategies to be effective, one must know what the key rabies vectors are, and much information regarding the biology of the animals (habitat, mating seasons, etc.)

At present, little information is available regarding rabies epizootiology and epidemiology in Kyrgyzstan. A cursory retrospective study of human and animal cases over the last ten years indicates that the incidence of rabies has been increasing. However, little if any is known about the key wildlife reservoirs in Kyrgyzstan (or for that matter, in the entire region of Central Asia), what variants of rabies virus are circulating in this country, what factors promote or hinder the spread of rabies in Kyrgyzstan, and what the impact of wildlife rabies is on cases in livestock, pets and people.

Kyrgyzstan is rich with mountainous pastures, forests and gorges, which present challenges to sample collection and transport to laboratories for diagnosis. As well, the local veterinary network and facilities are facing the particularly challenging task of fighting infection from neglected and wild animals which are not vaccinated as a rule. Pastoral livestock production is common in regions of Kyrgyzstan. Mass migration of livestock and their potential contacts with wild animals represent a real threat of infection. In spring and autumn, hundreds of thousands of animals are driven and transported to seasonal pastures and back. As well, livestock from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan graze on summer pastures. These circumstances will need to be taken into account when analyzing the role of wild animals in rabies spread. The movement of great numbers of animals in short period of time over substantial distances, as well as huge workload on transport routes, require great organizational preparedness on the part of farms as well as veterinary services.

The goal of this project is to conduct epizootic monitoring and epidemiological surveillance of rabies in Kyrgyzstan, which will facilitate the development of rabies control strategies; the ultimate goal is prevention of rabies in humans and domestic animals. In the southern part of the country, there will be surveys conducted to identify reasons for the wide spread of rabies, jointly with the veterinary service. Medical and veterinary staff will be trained on modern diagnostics and will work closely with the public as most people do not seek health care due to low awareness of a need for rabies prevention.

In this respect, the comprehensive measures for combating rabies will need to be implemented. These include:

  • Acquiring modern equipment for diagnostic laboratories and adoption of the methods approved by the WHO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) for rabies diagnosis. This will allow accurate and timely rabies diagnosis, facilitate collection of virus isolates for further analyses, and based on the results, inform decisions on appropriate control measures to be taken;
  • Monitoring of the rabies epizootic by geographic areas, especially in mountains and forests from where a permanent threat of infection is coming;
  • Studies of seasonal properties of rabies considering climatic conditions in regions and peculiarities of pastoral production systems;
  • Studies of immune response of animals vaccinated against rabies;
  • Development of molecular biology tools to identify rabies virus variants and to permit studies of virus distribution (molecular epidemiology) and evolution at the molecular level.

The results will help identify rabies spread in Kyrgyzstan and peculiarities of the epizootic process for this disease. There will also be a scientifically substantiated system developed for controlling animal rabies that will consider climatic conditions and pastoral livestock production in the country.

For achieving the above mentioned objectives it is necessary first to provide existing veterinary laboratories with modern diagnostic equipment in compliance with the requirements of WHO and OIE. Additionally, virologists and medical laboratory staff should be trained on rapid methods of rabies diagnostics applied in the western countries (USA, Canada etc).

The results of these studies shall be useful not just for veterinary but also for healthcare epidemiology as well as for international organizations involved in animal health protection, monitoring the epizootic status of diseases and ensuring security at international level. Furthermore, there is a dearth of knowledge regarding the rabies virus variants circulating in the region of Central Asia. The proposed project will provide information important not only for Kyrgyzstan, but for the surrounding countries as well, and can serve as a model for this region for approaches to rabies surveillance and control.


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