Merck Animal Health Extends Commitment to Fighting Rabies in the World’s Most At-Risk Regions


September 28, 2017 8:00 am ET

Africa and India Still Bear Highest Burden of Annual Rabies Deaths

Today marks the midway milestone for World Rabies Day, when the Global
Alliance for Rabies Control, together with health organizations from
around the world, set a goal of eliminating human rabies transmitted by
dogs by 2030. Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside
the United States and Canada) is pleased to announce our continued
support in the fight against rabies through the donation of NOBIVAC®
Rabies vaccine and other resources to the Afya Serengeti Project and
Mission Rabies, organizations working to eliminate this disease in the
world’s most at-risk regions.

Rabies, a neglected disease of vulnerable populations, is nearly 100
percent fatal but also nearly 100 percent preventable through canine
vaccination. Africa and India still bear the highest burden of total
annual rabies deaths.i Countries with the highest fatalities
from rabies are India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, China
and Myanmar.ii

“Each year, an estimated 60,000 people die from rabies, with 40 percent
of those deaths occurring in children under the age of fifteen,” said
Ingrid Deuzeman, global marketing director, Merck Animal Health. “We are
resolved to continue our collaboration with the Afya Serengeti Project,
which we’ve been committed to for more than 15 years, and with Mission
Rabies, in support of the global health community goal to eliminate

Progress in the Fight Against Rabies

In more than 20 participating countries, when pet owners and
veterinarians choose NOBIVAC vaccines, it allows Merck Animal Health to
donate rabies vaccine to Mission Rabies and the Afya Serengeti Project.

“Mission Rabies launched at the end of 2013 and to date we’ve delivered
the NOBIVAC Rabies vaccine to 700,000 street dogs in some of the world’s
worst rabies hotspots. Our flagship projects are delivering amazing
results with no human rabies cases having been reported in the Indian
city of Ranchi, the State of Goa or the city of Blantyre in Malawi so
far this year. It’s incredible considering just a few years ago, a
hospital in Blantyre (the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital) was
reporting the highest incidence of child rabies deaths from any single
institution in the whole of Africa,” said Luke Gamble, founder, Mission
Rabies. “We are all driven to power Mission Rabies forward and without
the support of Merck Animal Health NOBIVAC Rabies vaccine, we couldn’t
do what we do. The vaccine is saving lives amongst some of the poorest
and most vulnerable people in the world and it’s a privilege to be a
part of this project with everyone.”

“The human toll of rabies is needless and tragic. However, over the past
20 years, we have shown that vaccination programs can reach enough dogs
to eliminate rabies anywhere in the world,” said Professor Sarah
Cleaveland, founder, Afya Serengeti Project. “With continued support
from Merck Animal Health and other collaborators, I believe we have the
vaccine and the tools to achieve zero human deaths from dog rabies by

For more information, visit,
Please see Prescribing Information for NOBIVAC® Vaccines at

Eliminating Rabies in India and Africa

Since 2013, Mission Rabies has set a goal to vaccinate dogs across
rabies hotspots in India, where over a third of all human rabies deaths
occur.iii Based on the program’s success in India, Mission
Rabies has expanded its offering to Africa.

Mission Rabies does more than just vaccinate hundreds of thousands of
dogs against rabies each year. They go to schools and educate children
in these communities, informing them of the seriousness of the disease.
Children are the most affected by rabies because they play with dogs and
don’t understand how deadly rabies can be.

Using a fast-paced team of veterinarians and volunteers, Mission Rabies
has so far vaccinated more than 505,000 dogs, trained 80 veterinarians,
and educated more than 1,200,000 children about the risk of rabies.

Saving Lives in the Serengeti

The Afya Serengeti Project has prevented thousands of deaths in the
Serengeti through the widespread vaccination of domestic dogs. Since the
start of the program, the incidence of human rabies, rabies in dogs and
rabid dog bites has dropped to an all-time low.iv Each year,
over 600 dog rabies cases have been prevented and 23 human lives saved.
The effective control of rabies through dog vaccination has also
had benefits for wildlife, including endangered African wild dogs, which
have become re-established in the Serengeti National Park for the first
time since the population disappeared as a result of rabies outbreaks in
the early 1990s. Understanding the importance of providing vaccinations
to other at-risk areas, the Afya Project has extended to Kenya,
Bangalore and the Pune region of India.

About Merck Animal Health

For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical
company, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and
vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. Merck Animal
Health, known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada,
is the global animal health business unit of Merck. Through its
commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals™, Merck Animal Health
offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the
widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health
management solutions and services. Merck Animal Health is dedicated to
preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of
animals. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D
resources and a modern, global supply chain. Merck Animal Health is
present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in
some 150 markets. For more information, visit or
connect with us on LinkedIn,
and Twitter at @MerckAH.

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i World Health Organization. Rabies Fact Sheet: Epidemiology.
Accessed June 23, 2017 at
Hampson K, et al. Estimating the global burden of endemic canine
rabies. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2015;9(4). Accessed June 23, 2017 at
World Health Organization. Bulletin of the World Health Organization.
“India’s ongoing war against rabies.” Bulletin of the World Health
Organization. Volume 87, Number 12, December 2009, 885-964. Accessed
June 17, 2015 via
Kaare M, Lembo T, Hampson K, et al. Rabies control in rural Africa:
evaluating strategies for effective domestic dog vaccination. Vaccine.

For Merck Animal Health:
Logan Rizzo, 973-937-5590
Pam Eisele, 267-305-3558

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