Why Latin America is nearer elimination of rabies than Africa

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"World Rabies Day" is September 28th. Copyright: CC, Global Alliance for Rabies Control   
   
Rabies: a contagious and fatal viral disease of dogs and other mammals, transmissible through the saliva to humans and causing madness and convulsions. Rabies is fatal once symptoms appear.

Latin America is doing far better at managing, controlling and ultimately eliminating rabies from the region. Africa is failing to make the same gains and a rethink is required: can the lessons learned in Latin America be  applied or adapted to Africa?

At  the biennial RSTMH meeting “Challenges in Disease Elimination” held in Cambridge [September 12-16th, 2016], Katie Hampson [University of Glasgow] described the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO)'s surveillance & management framework operating in Mexico and Brazil,  and devised to support the elimination of rabies in 25 PAHO countries. She also described the work of Tanzanian colleagues who have developed a “pragmatic approach to surveillance” for the African setting where resources are constrained.

Current situation of rabies control in Latin America vs Africa

The short answer is that in Latin America, PAHO, which exists to “strengthen national and local health systems and improve the health of the peoples of the Americas”, has concentrated on vaccinating the dog population against rabies and interrupting transmission. African countries have no similar regional support structure for their health ministries and rely on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)  of humans bitten by dogs, to achieve a form of control of rabies. PEP vaccination only saves lives if the bitten person has timely access to a well-stocked clinic, and the money to pay for the shots. In remote and rural areas, this can lead to grim choices: which child do you treat if you only have money for one?  We heard at the RSTMH of an African mother with several children bitten by the “family dog”, who having travelled a great distance to reach the vaccine, was then faced with that very choice.

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Debate over Infectious Salmon Anaemia Virus in Wild Fish

Miroslav Djuric, DVM

Infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) is a pathogen of marine-farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). However, ISAV can be transmitted experimentally to fish in fresh water. Outbreaks are restricted to Atlantic salmon but other salmonids may harbour the virus and act as reservoirs. ISAV remains an emerging fish pathogen because of the asymptomatic infections in marine wild fish. Natural outbreaks are usually chronic, lasting for several months and mortality varies between 15-100%.Atlantic-salmon-public-domain-image

Diagnosis is based on characteristic gross pathology and light microscopy, anaemia and absence of pathogenic bacteria.  Supporting diagnosis of the virus is achieved by culture on the salmon head kidney cell line (SHK-1), a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).2

ISAV was first diagnosed in southwest Norway in 1984 and has since been diagnosed in Canada, Scotland, the USA, the Faeroe Islands and Chile. The first outbreak of ISAV in marine-farmed Atlantic salmon in the Southern hemisphere occurred in Chile in 2007.

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Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) Targeted for Eradication

By Miroslav Djuric, DVM

Following the successful eradication of Rinderpest (Cattle plague, see blog), veterinarians, farmers and donors across the World are turning their focus to combat Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) on a global scale. The FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) have developed a detailed strategy for FMD control under the umbrella of their Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs). However, it is clear that only a massive commitment of national and international resources can make FMD eradication possible, as surveillance and monitoring over a long period is required.

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FMD is a highly infectious disease caused by a picornavirus, which affects cloven-hoofed animals, in particular cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and deer. Other animals including camelids and elephants can also be affected. The disease is notifiable, which means that the local veterinary services must be notified immediately if FMD is suspected.Although FMD does not pose a direct threat to human health, and is rarely fatal in animals, it can cause reduced milk yield, weight loss and lower fertility.

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