Goal: To eliminate rabies in Laikipia County, Kenya by 2030
Every year, approximately 2,000 Kenyans die of rabies, according to the World Health Organization. Rabies kills nearly 100 percent of infected humans and 86 percent of infected dogs. Over 98 percent of human rabies cases are caused by bites from infected dogs. Children are at highest risk because they interact the most with dogs. However, rabies is 100% preventable through vaccination. Mass vaccination of domestic dogs has been shown to be the most effective way to get rid of rabies in a particular population.
The Laikepia Rabies Vaccination Campaign began in 2015 to eradicate rabies from the domestic dog population in Laikepia County, as part of the national rabies eradication effort in Kenya. The campaign provides free and accessible rabies vaccination to dogs belonging to rural people in the villages of arid and semi-arid Laikipia who cannot afford or access the vaccines. Close to 16,000 dogs were vaccinated from 2015-2017, and an additional 14,480 dogs and cats were vaccinated in 2018. This will translate into a healthier pet population and break the rabies virus circulation in the domestic dog population while at the same time affording protection for the wildlife in the vast conservation areas (Laikipia is one of the world’s top Conservation Zones, due to the diversity of animal life, including the endangered wild (“painted”) dogs).
Veterinarians International has partnered with the Laikipia Rabies Vaccination Campaign through cash support, advice, and personnel. Dr. Arlene Gardsbane, VI’s Project Coordinator for the African Rabies Project, serves on the Planning Committee, and joined them for the last weekend of the Campaign 2018, helping to vaccinate almost 5000 dogs and cats in a two-day period.
For the 2019 Campaign, she will bring North American veterinary volunteers to help over two weekends, in the fall. American and Kenyan veterinarians, plus local volunteers will work together, forming friendships and building understanding through a shared goal. The days between vaccination clinics will include wildlife safaris and cultural programs. Laikipia County hosts some of the best Wildlife Conservancies, run by private owners, indigenous tribes, and research organizations. The largest ethnic group is the Maasai, who have preserved much of their colorful past, and welcome visitors to learn about their traditional way of life.
While in Kenya, the veterinary volunteers will spend time in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, visiting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the Giraffe Sanctuary, the Kenyan SPCA and other tourist sites.
If you are interested in learning more about this project and ways to help, please contact Dr. Arlene Gardsbane via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org