This post was authored by Joanne Maki, DMV, PhD, Wildlife Global Franchise Director, Veterinary Public Health Group, Merial
Every year on World Rabies Day, September 28th, Merial joins with public and private institutions worldwide to bring much-needed attention to the serious threat that rabies poses to animals and humans. This year in particular, Merial and Sanofi are proud to recognize the significant accomplishments of 25 years of oral rabies vaccination (ORV) of wildlife in the United States.
In 1990, the first outdoor field trial of Merial’s RABORAL V-RG® was conducted on Parramore Island, Va., to prove the vaccine’s ability to prevent rabies in raccoons in response to an epidemic of U.S. rabies infections in wild animals in the 1980s.
Since then, U.S. ORV wildlife programs with RABORAL V-RG in Southern Texas have contributed to the elimination of the canine rabies variant from the United States since 2004; the near elimination of the gray fox rabies variant in west central Texas (only one case reported since 2009); and the ongoing prevention of the spread of the raccoon rabies virus variant in the eastern United States for over 25 years. In 2015 alone, more than 7 million RABORAL V-RG vaccine baits are being distributed across 12 states to prevent wildlife rabies outbreaks and reduce the public health impact of this disease.
Rabies, a viral disease in mammals that is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal, is nearly 100 percent fatal – but is preventable. So, we must continue to fight this disease with constant vigilance through partnerships and education. Worldwide, the virus kills one person every ten minutes; with more than 95 percent of cases in Africa and Asia. In the U.S., approximately 90 percent of reported rabies cases occur in wildlife.
Beyond supplying vaccine and technical support for ORV wildlife programs with government agencies, Merial also partners closely with veterinarians, pet owners, and livestock farmers to prevent rabies in other animals. And together, Merial and Sanofi Pasteur are leaders in the global OneHealth fight against rabies to protect human and animal health.
Like all zoonotic diseases, the prevention of rabies requires significant strategic planning and coordination across a multitude of stakeholders. For more than 30 years, Merial has been a dedicated, global leader in rabies management and prevention, and we still have much more to do at local and global levels to stop the spread of rabies. It will require heightened education and awareness about how rabies can be prevented in various species – and focus from public and private organizations to apply and sustain the vaccination programs that we know work against this disease. As a global company with a strong history of rabies prevention, Merial is proud to help lead the way, long into the future.
®Raboral V-RG is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2015 Merial, Inc. Duluth, GA. All rights reserved.