Field Report - Mission Rabies joining Dogstar's Project Sirius in Sri Lanka

Post by
Frederic Lohr
January 23rd 2015

Mission Rabies is all about tackling rabies together with local partners in hotspot areas around the world. Andy and the other members of our team from around the world will do their best to keep you updated on the ongoing fight against rabies.

Last week our Research and Epidemiology Manager Andy Gibson departed to Sri Lanka to support Dogstar Foundation's "Project Sirius" and test our newly developed "Mission Rabies App" in the field. This app will enable NGOs and researchers to boost their capacities to run and coordinate rabies vaccination projects all over the world.

"We're two days into Dogstar's mass rabies vaccination campaign in Negombo, a vibrant fishing city north of Sri Lanka's capital, and things are in full swing. After a quick refresher briefing and a spicy local breakfast the teams load up the vans are in the field by 6 am. This morning we began in the fish markets where dogs survive on the off-cuts from fishermen and market stalls.

The market was bustling with hundreds of people haggling for a bargain and stalls burdened with an unimaginable array of sea creatures, the most surprising of all being tuna the size of a small sofa. A main road carving through the middle of the market adds to the chaos with cyclists, tuk-tuks and heavy goods vehicles impatiently barging through the crowd. The dogs were more interested in finding breakfast than being vaccinated and most were skillfully caught one by one in nets for just long enough to give them a rabies-protecting vaccine and mark them with dye.

After the chaos of the markets the teams moved into the residential areas where locals brought their dogs out for vaccination, reaching a total of 201 vaccinations for the day. Simultaneously the survey team scoured the streets covered the day before, estimating the percentage of vaccinated dogs achieved. We were thrilled to calculate that we had hit our target of 70%, meaning the area is protected from the spread of rabies until we re-vaccinate next year. One area complete and another 32 to go! The team have quickly picked up using the Mission Rabies phone app to log each dog for mapping and later population analysis and the feedback has been great. It's been a pleasure to work with the hard working and dedicated team at Dogstar and we are excited about the future of this fantastic project here in Negombo."