Oral rabies vaccination of dogs by veterinary students in the rural village of Mindoro, Philippines

Vaccination coverage in the Philippines is very low, particularly in rural areas, because most dogs cannot be handled easily by their owners. In the remote village of Mindoro, pre-vaccination coverage, assessed through house-to-house surveys, was 0% at the start of the project. All 216 dogs counted were owned. Oral vaccination was considered the most appropriate strategy for this setting. Permission for vaccination was obtained from the head of the village as well as the appropriate governmental local and national agencies. Sixteen veterinary students of DMMMSU (Bacnotan - La Union), who had been previously vaccinated against rabies, were trained before the campaigns with special emphasis on how to approach dogs and offer them a bait containing a vaccine-filled capsule. Mindoro was reached by the vaccinators, 8 teams of 2 veterinary students each, and supervisors using public transport (bus, scooters, and boats).

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Veterinary students offering a bait to a dog in the Philippines

The baits, made from locally available foodstuffs, had been prepared the previous day and were transported in a cool box. Dogs encountered were offered a bait and the discarded vaccine container was subsequently collected by the students. One student would focus on offering the dog the bait and a second student would act as rapporteur and question and inform the owner(s) or other people watching. To overcome the risk of free-roaming dogs being offered multiple baits by different teams, the area was covered very rapidly. During 2.5 hours, 76% of the dog population aged 2 months or older had been vaccinated directly or had been offered a bait and had subsequently punctured the vaccine capsule. Additional visits to the village by veterinary staff of DMMMSU were made to collect blood samples and assess potential adverse reactions. For more information on this case study read Estrada et al. (2001).

Photo courtesy of Ad Vos.

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