Mexico has just proven that vaccination dogs can end rabies

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By JeraldDossantos

Human rabies was eliminated in Mexico by our work with the Mexican government in vaccinating dogs. This approach protects both dogs and people.

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The world’s first

Mexico was the first country that the World Health Organisation (WHO), in September 2019, recognized as having eliminated rabies in humans transmitted by dogs.

Mexico’s important achievements in Mexico are the result of cooperation between the national and state governments and the recognition of the “one-health approach”. This is because human and animal health are interrelated. In the case of Rabies, it is impossible to protect humans without first protecting dogs.

Fear of rabies causes approximately 10 million dogs to be cruelly killed each year. Governments mistakenly view dog culling as a quick fix. It often makes things worse.

Even though there are proven solutions to rabies, the worst cases of rabies still occur in the poorest parts of the world.

How we supported Mexico’s efforts to eradicate rabies

We began to work with the National Mexican Zoonoses Deputy Directorate in 2000 to develop a dog rabies prevention strategy that focused on welfare and not ineffective culling.

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This pilot was conducted in Puebla which is the fourth-largest state in Mexico. It has a population exceeding six million and more than 203 canine rabies deaths within a forty year period. If there were to be any hope of eliminating this deadly disease, it was necessary to address the lack of technical knowledge and infrastructure.

The holistic canine-rabies prevention program made dogs the center of the solution.

  • free mass dog vaccination
  • Free surgical neutering of pets
  • Responsible pet ownership education and awareness programs in communities
  • Dog adoption rather than ineffective mass culling
  • Dogs making global progress

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We are extremely proud of the landmark achievement achieved by Mexico through our collaboration. We continue to work with key stakeholders worldwide to eradicate rabies from dogs and humans by 2030.

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As a member of International Companion Animal Management Coalition, (ICAM), I co-organised the only international conference on dog population management that 185 delegates came from 38 countries.

The African Union helped to draft the Animal Health Strategy. This means that all 54 members countries must have a rabies elimination plan. It should include humane dog population management and protection of 100 million dogs by 2025.

The first ever Animal Friendly City Prize was launched in Brazil and Latin America. It recognizes cities that have the most innovative and successful humane dog population management programs.

Beijing Animal Disease Control (BADC), a partnership to publish a children’s book in China. This will educate both teachers and children about responsible pet ownership.

Living together

My family grew up in Kathmandu (Nepal), where free-living dogs were an integral part of every family and community. Dogs can be our allies, friends, protectors, and companions. This is a universal truth. Dogs are often seen as an enemy. Fear, lack and political will to eradicate rabies have led to a lack in investment and resources. Or the best option is chosen.

Success stories like Mexico’s are important because they show that dogs can solve rabies. People are starting to realize that dogs can solve rabies. Dogs’ lives have value and the welfare of humans is tied to their welfare.

We will all thrive if we treat animals like sentient beings that deserve respect and care.

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We are grateful for your continued support. We would not be able protect our dogs and communities against rabies or fear without you.