Resources

General Questions

Why aren't you vaccinating elsewhere/will you come and vaccinate in my country?

We are always keen to hear from active animal welfare groups around the world who are interested in taking up the work of Mission Rabies in their own country. If you have the manpower and logistics to run a vaccine drive and are working in a rabies-endemic country, then we would be happy to hear from you to see whether Mission Rabies could support you in running mass vaccination drives. Contact enquiries@missionrabies.com for more information.

Do you sterilise dogs at the same time as vaccination?

This depends on the project, location and resources available. Humane population control is a very important part of an over arching strategy to control rabies, but it is a separate project to single-mindedly eliminating the disease.

If we aren't neutering as we vaccinate, we always work synergistically with local NGO's and through our sister charity, Worldwide Veterinary Service, to support on-going local veterinary infrastructure with ABC training and neutering campaigns.

As a priority to eliminate rabies, we need to rapidly achieve herd immunity in the dog population, by vaccinating to at least 70% coverage, as recommended by the World Health Organisation, so our immediate focus is often initially on mass vaccinations to hit this 70% coverage, and then we support the humane population control programme (which is a much slower process!).

Why are you vaccinating dogs and not people?

Over 99% of cases of human rabies are caused by an infected dog bite. Protecting dogs is the quickest and fastest way to protect people and tackles the disease at the source. The cost of vaccinating dogs is also significantly cheaper than the cost of vaccinating people too, so there is an economic benefit to preventing the disease in dogs as a primary initiative.

With regards public awareness, we always seek to deliver our comprehensive education material to local school children through our education teams. Dog vaccination together with educating people living alongside dogs is the best way to prevent rabies in both people and dogs.

Do the nets traumatise or hurt the dogs?

It is the kindest and best way to catch a street dog. We use skilled dog catchers, trained in net catching, which is the most humane method of catching dogs not used to human interaction.

To minimise the stress, we always aim to carry out the entire process of catch-vaccinate-mark-release within 60 seconds. We try to identify friendly dogs that will not require net catching and use treats and minimal restraint where possible, but it is fair to say, the safety of the vaccination team is our priority, so we do not take risks if we are uncertain of the temperament of the dog - in many cases it is safer for all concerned to restrain the dog quickly and painlessly in the net.

Do the yellow t-shirts frighten the dogs?

Dogs see a very limited range of colours and in much less intensity than humans do. Many dogs willingly approach the team for food rewards and are then held to be vaccinated. For those that don't approach of their free will, the nets are the most humane and safest way to catch the dogs and the whole experience lasts usually less than a minute, yet the rabies vaccine administered will save their life and the lives of many people.

The uniform is most useful for other team members to identify their colleagues and for local communities to associate our colors with the work we are doing.

How will your teams keep track of those vaccinated for a hopeful repeat next year?

We don't have to. The plan is always to repeat the 70% vaccination coverage of any given area, every year for three years.

We use Nobivac Rabies, a world-leading vaccine that also provides immunity for at least three years, however, in a rabies-endemic country like India, and where the dog population turnover may be high and we have no way of knowing which dogs have been vaccinated once the marker paint has worn off, annual vaccinations have to be enforced as much as possible to provide adequate protective 'herd immunity' in a population.

If we can maintain at least 70% vaccination coverage every year, then we can eliminate rabies from the dog population. There is no harm to the dogs by vaccinating them annually. Vaccinating annually also has the effect of raising awareness and diligence amongst animal owners about the importance of regular vaccination.

How many vaccinations are needed for immunity?

One single vaccine should provide immunity for at least three years.

At what age can dogs be vaccinated?

We vaccinate at any age.

We take our advice on age of vaccination from the Canine Rabies Blueprint:

“Although it is often assumed that pups should be vaccinated only after 3 months of age, it is important that dogs of all ages, including young pups, are vaccinated during a vaccination campaign. If pups are not included in campaigns, it is likely that the overall population vaccination coverage will not be high enough to prevent rabies in the interval between campaigns. There is good evidence from African campaigns that pups younger than 3 months mount a solid (protective) immune response to rabies vaccine and that commercial inactivated vaccines are entirely safe.” (Source: https://www.dogstarfoundation.com/ Canine Rabies Blueprint)

What about injured dogs?

Any injured or seriously ill animals are treated. That said, the project is focused on rabies control and it's not possible for our mobile street teams to carry supplies of preventative meds, so we are not deworming, for example.

About the vaccine

The vaccine we use is Nobivac Rabies, produced by MSD (Merck) which is ideal for our campaign as it is very stable under field conditions (including exposure to higher temperatures). It is licensed and shown to be safe in pregnant and lactating bitches and pups from 4 weeks of age, provides at least 3 years' immunity and has active case challenge data supporting its efficacy. It can also be given under the skin (subcutaneously) or directly into the muscle (intramuscularly). (MSD Vaccine Fact Sheet)

Do you just vaccinate free-roaming or un-owned dogs?

We will target both owned and un-owned dogs, since a large proportion of dog bites occur from owned dogs and to achieve the 70% vaccination coverage required to prevent the spread of rabies, we need to target all dogs, not just un-owned dogs. As well as catching free-roaming dogs in nets, we also go door-to-door vaccinating confined, owned dogs.

Wouldn't it be easier/cheaper just to kill the dogs?

Killing dogs has been scientifically proven to have no effect on rabies transmission or overall population, since new dogs quickly move into the area where killing has taken place to take advantage of the increased food resources and territory. This mixing of new dogs may even increase the risk of rabies due to fighting over territory and mates. By vaccinating at least 70% of a stable population of dogs in the local area, they act as a barrier to disease transmission and stop rabies in its tracks, this protecting the people in that area from the disease. A healthy, vaccinated street dog population is the best protection for people from rabies.

I was bitten by a dog, what should I do? I have had a pre-exposure vaccination course.

Wash the wound for 15 minutes with soap and running water. Consult your local doctor for a post-exposure rabies vaccination course. The schedule for this can vary country to country. Current WHO guidelines recommend 2 rabies vaccine injections on days 0 and 3.

I was bitten by a dog, what should I do? I haven't had a pre-exposure vaccination course.

Wash the wound for 15 minutes with soap and running water. Consult your local doctor for a post-exposure rabies vaccination course. The schedule for this can vary country to country. WHO recommend 4 rabies vaccine injections on days 0, 3, 7 and 14. For category 3 exposures, rabies immunoglobulin is also advised.

I had contact with a dog which died suddenly, I think it could be rabies, what should I do?

Consult your local doctor for a post-exposure rabies vaccination course. Contact your local veterinarian or public health officer. They will be able to let you know what the next step is in the rabies investigation.

If you live in the areas below, we have a rabies response team. Please call us and one of our team will be able to help.

India, Goa: +91 77440 29586

Malawi, Blantyre: +265 885 31 99 39

Cambodia, Phnom Penh: +855 81 804 170

I saw a dog on the street, I think it could have rabies, what should I do?

Do not approach this dog. Contact your local veterinarian or public health officer. They will be able to let you know what the next step is in the rabies investigation.

If you live in the areas below, we have a rabies response team. Please call us and one of our team will be able to help.

India, Goa: +91 77440 29586

Malawi, Blantyre: +265 885 31 99 39

Cambodia, Phnom Penh: +855 81 804 170

Do you carry out research into rabies elimination?

We collect data on every dog we vaccinate and every school we visit. This provides us with the basis to ensure that we are working in the most efficient and effective way possible. Our data collection also enables us to conduct innovative scientific research, which contributes to an improved understanding of rabies globally and improves strategies for elimination of the disease worldwide.

To take a look at some of our research, please follow the links below:

For further background information on rabies, please visit the below sites:

Volunteer Questions

How can I be part of this exciting project?

Mission Rabies could not exist without the workforce and dedication of Volunteers donating their time and skills to help eliminating rabies. Becoming a part of this amazing volunteer community is easy: just go to missionrabies.com/volunteer, pick a project that suits you and apply through the link provided on that project's page. After you have sent in your application via the website, one of our Volunteer Coordinators will contact you with further details. In case the application form doesn't work, you can also contact us directly via enquiries@missionrabies.com .

My favourite project is already booked out. Is there a waiting list for current or future projects?

Even though we are in constant need for volunteers there might be times when we can't take any more volunteers on one specific project. If you want to be among the first to be informed when a new opportunity opens up, please contact us directly at enquiries@missionrabies.com for your name to be put on a waiting list.

What is the latest point in time I can book a trip before my departure?

It certainly depends on the project you are interested, so make sure to check out the projects page missionrabies.com/volunteer and read through the available information there. Some of the projects are booked out shortly after the announcement, so make sure to check out the homepage regularly.

We usually advise all volunteers to book their trips no later than 6 weeks before the intended date of departure. This gives you enough time to arrange your rabies vaccination and visa for the trip.

Why do I have to pay to be a Volunteer?

We at Mission Rabies honour the dedication and generous offer of your workforce to reach the ultimate goal - the elimination of rabies. In order to make this happen, we want to be able to spend as much of our funding as possible into supplies and logistics, like life-saving vaccines and trucks to transport the teams. Therefore, we need to charge you a small fee that covers your cost of living, transportation and support throughout your time at the project site. Of course we also try to turn your stay into a real experience and will organize activities during your days off that will enable you to see and learn more about the place you stay. Last but not least, you will also support the Mission as a whole through your volunteer fee, to enable us to save more lives through vaccinating even more dogs.

I have no veterinary or animal handling background and want to be part of Mission Rabies! Is that even possible?

YES, absolutely! Despite needing vets and vet nurses for our various projects, non-veterinarians and students are always more than welcome to join the team! We have various positions to fill, from dog painters, educators and data collectors, everyone has an important position to fill and Mission Rabies couldn't work without them. Check out our volunteer information on the projects page or have a look at the Volunteer Handbook.

As a veterinary student, can I learn how to spay and neuter while volunteering for Mission Rabies?

Mission Rabies strives to eliminate rabies in large areas in a short amount of time. As you can read in our FAQ General section, we therefore focus more on mass vaccination drives without dog population control. If you are interested in spay and neuter please check out the website of our sister charity, WVS, who run specialised training courses for vet students in Thailand and India.

As a veterinary student, does volunteering with Mission Rabies count as an official internship (EMS)?

Whether you volunteering with Mission Rabies counts towards your EMS (in UK) or will be recognized as an official intern- or externship mainly depends on your university. Several of our former student volunteers from the UK have claimed EMS credit in the past. Please discuss this with your tutor and university administration first. In the UK, you need to obtain an EMS form from your university which we will gladly complete for you. For our American volunteers we are also n 501c3 accredited organization.

What vaccinations beside the rabies and tetanus vaccination are required?

The vaccinations you need may vary from country to country, so please make sure to contact your physician or the nearest travel clinic to learn more about the vaccinations you need.

For rabies and tetanus we require proof that you are vaccinated. Where you have received the vaccination without documentation, please contact the respective physician to obtain a document stating that you are properly vaccinated.

If you have had a vaccination course for rabies previously, we will accept a titre test.

What about safety at Mission Rabies?

Rabies is a dangerous disease and for a lot of our volunteers it may be the first time they see a rabid animal - we take this risk very seriously. Mission Rabies staff aim to keep all the risks as low as possible through a thorough risk analysis before we set up a project and training of both permanent staff and volunteers.

Once signed up to a project volunteers will be given access to an online Pre-Project Briefing, this will provide more information on rabies and will run through the health and safety considerations. In the run up to the trip, you will also be provided with a comprehensive information pack specific to your trip. On arrival in-country, volunteers will receive an in-depth briefing covering all health and safety aspects of the project. We expect all volunteers to be acting within this guidance and take personal responsibility for health and safety in line with this advice.

Mission Rabies is a certified BS8848 volunteering organisation. To achieve this status our staff extensively evaluate and risk assess the country and project region, ensuring every aspect meets BS8848 standards. For more information on the BS8848 standards please see here.

Partners

Dogs Trust, WVS, Davies Veterinary Specialists, Covetrus, BSAVA, Commonwealth Veterinary Association, WSAVA, CDC, University of Edinburgh Technik Technology, Vipex, WTG, Pet Air, Mayhew International, BCF Technology, Centaur Services, AGM Telematics, AST, Daray Medical, Medimark Scientific, MSD Animal Health, Starleaf, University of Bristol, W&H, ABC India, A1 Animals Come First, Humane Animal Society, Animal Rescue Kerala, International Animal Rescue, Just be Friendly, IPAN, TOLFA, Indian Veterinary Association, AWBI, APCRI, VSPCA, Vets for Animals, iSAW, CARE, tiffinbox and IVSA.

Dogs TrustMSD Animal HealthWorldwide Veterinary ServiceWSAVAAFSCANCovetrusClinician's BriefDavies Vet SpecialistsFitzpatrick ReferralsBSAVACommonwealth Veterinary AssociationTechnikVipexPet AirMayhew InternationalBCF TechnologyAGM TelematicsASTCentaurDaray MedicalMedimark ScientificStarLeafUniversity of BristolW&HSecurosHumane Animal SocietyABC IndiaArkA1 Animals Come FirstJBFIPANTOLFAIARIndian Veterinary AssociationAnimal Welfare Board of IndiaAPCRIVSPCACAREWAGPeople for Animals GoaPeople for AnimalsiSAWVets for AnimalsKottayam Nature SocietyBlue CrossMother's HeartTiffinboxCVSCDCBSPCAMbwa Wa AfricaIVSADogstar FoundationUniversity of Edinburgh

Mission Rabies
4 Castle Street
Cranborne
Dorset
BH21 5PZ
United Kingdom

Mission Rabies is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (1162293)

Mission Rabies USA, Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization – EIN 81-5065473

Mission Rabies Deutschland e.V. (VR 5642, Amtsgericht Marburg) - kontakt@missionrabies.de

In association with:

Dogs Trust WorldwideWorldwide Veterinary ServiceMSD Animal Health