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12, 000 animals to be vaccinated against rabies

Over 12, 000 domesticated animals are to be vaccinated against pests, flies, parasites and rabies in Machakos County.

Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) in partnership with the Machakos County government and Veterinarians from Denver, Colorado have started a 5 days free mass rabies vaccination campaign in Machakos.

The vaccination targets donkeys, cats and dogs and the goal of the free exercise is to eradicate rabies in Machakos County where so far, only 4, 000 animals have been vaccinated.

While speaking to the media in Machakos, the lead Consultant Dr. Julie Kelly from USA said they have mobilized over 16 experts from the US to implement the initiative in the Sub Counties.

Dr. Kelly said they aimed to work on the rabies epidemic that Kenya is experiencing and their goal was to reach 12, 000 animals to be vaccinated and treated for flies, ticks and other parasites.

“We are providing medication for fleas and ticks other than vaccination. I am here working for ANAW and we have travelled a long distance to come and help this organization vaccinate over 12000 animals,” said Dr. Kelly.

“Our goal is to improve the welfare of animals in Machakos and we hope to reach multiple donkeys, cats and as many dogs as possible. We want to help with the health care of these animals and increase the ability to be family-friendly while providing collars for dogs and cats,” added Dr. Kelly.

Dr. Dennis Bahati also from ANAW said Machakos was listed as one of the counties with the highest rabies infection in the country, hence the reason for being targeted by the ongoing vaccination campaign.

He added that, “our focus as an organisation is anchored on National Rabies Eradication Programme that seeks to enhance mass anti-rabies vaccination, public education and population management so as to eradicate rabies”.

Between December 2020-March 2021, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in partnership with Machakos County, held a campaign and vaccinated over 5, 000 animals. The veterinary experts also treated animal wounds and dewormed the animals.

The aim was to help eliminate rabies in Machakos County by 2030 and the campaign is now being scaled up to reach almost 200,000 dogs in the county annually.

Machakos County is revamping its rabies awareness programme and sensitizing people on responsible dog ownership and what to do in case of a dog bite.

At the same time, the county is carrying out dog population control measures and sensitizing school going children about rabies since they are at a higher risk of experiencing dog bites and rabies death.

According to (ILRI) report, mass dog vaccination is a proven strategy in preventing rabies in humans. It is a less costly venture compared to treating sick humans. Vaccinating a dog costs about USD2 (approximately Sh200).

Rabies is often fatal if not treated on time. It affects the nervous system and leads to disease in the brain and eventually death. A Dog bite wound should be washed thoroughly with soap and water to reduce the rabies virus if present.

By Ann Kangero

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