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Largest ever canine rabies vaccination drive in Cambodia

Mission Rabies has undertaken a mass vaccination of dogs in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. The charity vaccinated nearly 75,000 dogs against rabies in just ten days, making this Cambodia’s largest canine rabies vaccination project to date.

Rabies kills approximately 59,000 people globally every year and Cambodia has one of the highest rabies death rates per capita of any country in the world. Mission Rabies worked closely with the local government and charity partners, along with over 100 international volunteers, to reach their vaccination target and protect two million people living in Phnom Penh from the deadly disease.

Infected dog bites are the main cause of rabies in people and studies have proven that mass canine vaccination programmes are the most effective way to control the disease. A combination of door-to-door visits and static point vaccination clinics are used to achieve this.

To efficiently deliver canine vaccinations on a large scale, the charity uses its own bespoke data collection ‘rabies app.’ Vaccination figures and information about each dog is entered into the app to help with rabies and dog population research, and to ensure the campaigns are effective and measurable.

Founder and CEO of Mission Rabies, Dr Luke Gamble, explains why large-scale canine vaccination is vital to protecting people from rabies in Cambodia:

“In Cambodia, the reality of rabies is a tragic one. Statistically, children die of canine transmitted rabies every week in Phnom Penh, and annually, approximately 600,000 people in the country are bitten by dogs. The lack of awareness about this deadly disease means that many bitten individuals do not receive the post-exposure treatment they need, leaving them with no chance for survival once symptoms appear. This has to stop.”

Mission Rabies began work in Cambodia in 2019, running a pilot vaccination campaign and commencing an education programme in the capital city. Ever since, its 24-hour surveillance team has responded to reports of rabid dogs and ensured anyone bitten receives immediate post-exposure treatment. Their rabies hotline allows members of the public to report rabid dog sightings and to seek support for any rabies emergencies.

Photo: Mission Rabies