By Benson Michael
Lagos State Government says it would vaccinate no fewer than 1.5 million dogs in the next two weeks during its current free anti-rabies vaccination campaign in the state to prevent unwanted deaths.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya stated this on Tuesday at the flag-off of the vaccination campaign held at the palace of Oba Ayangburen of Ikorodu in the Ikorodu area of the State.
She noted that as the pioneering State in the campaign exercise in the country, the vaccination exercise would take place for the next three years as it is imperative that vaccination campaign is held year-in year-out for the next three years in order for it to be effective among the dogs.
She said a lot of dogs in the State are not registered or licensed hence a lot of rabid dogs could be on the prowl, stressing the need for the vaccination exercise, particularly since rabies was easily preventable through vaccination.
The Commissioner, therefore, urged pet owners as responsible citizens to bring their dogs and cats for the vaccination exercise, stressing that the state government, as a responsive government has made the exercise free of charge for the citizenry.
“I am highly delighted to be here today to declare open our anti-rabies campaign with the theme: “Say No to Rabies in the 21st Century in Lagos State.”
“Dogs, properly owned and kept provide us with great benefits of companionship, security, health and research among others.
“They, being the major source of transmitting the dreaded rabies disease when unvaccinated, it is therefore imperative as a responsible and responsive government under the able leadership of Mr. Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to champion the global goal of eradicating the disease which is majorly curtailed through deliberate annual vaccination of our pets.
“With an estimated 1.5 million dogs in the State, I hereby enjoin all individuals, corporate organizations, communities to collaborate towards more responsible dog ownership to curb the strain of animals in the environment,” Olusanya noted.
The Commissioner added that the exercise would take place in the five divisions of the State, including Veterinary Clinic, beside LASPOTECH Second Gate, opposite Access Bank, Odogunyan, Ikorodu; Veterinary Center , Epe Local Government Compound , Orita Marun Epe; Veterinary Clinic, opposite Bethel Church, Beside Alesh Hotel Ajah; and the Veterinary Clinic by Randle General Hospital, Benson Street, Surulere.
Others are the Veterinary Clinic at Aiyedoto Farms Settlement, Agric Road, Ojo; Veterinary Clinic on Beach Road, Opposite General Hospital, Badagry; and the Animal Hospital on Old Abeokuta Motor Road, beside LASADA’s Office, Opposite DSTV Office, Oko Oba Agege.
“We have seven Lagos State veterinary clinics and so many other private clinics out there. So it is critical that we take our pets to some of these centers to get them vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“I urge you to ensure the registration and yearly vaccination of pets and other animals at the nearest government veterinary hospitals, clinics as well as government’s registered private animal health care centers at the clinic of their choice,” the Commissioner explained.
Earlier, the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria, Dr. Olaniran Alabi noted that an estimated 70,000 people globally die of rabies annually, adding that less than five per cent of dogs are vaccinated in Nigeria due to the high cost of the vaccine.
Alabi, who was represented by Dr Mairo Kachalla added that the disease was transmitted through the bite of an infected animal or man with 99% fatality if efficient post exposure prophylaxis treatment is not instituted early.
He said that rabies is a highly fatal viral disease affecting all warm-blooded animals, adding that despite the high fatality, the disease is 100% preventable through mass dog vaccination and enlightenment campaigns as dogs account for 99 per cent of human deaths resulting from rabies.
He said that the World Organisation for Animal (OIE) recommends that at least 70% of dogs should be vaccinated annually for three consecutive years in order to break the transmission cycle of rabies and consequently eliminate the disease.
According to him, rabies is one of the priority Trans boundary Animal Disease and has remained endemic in Nigeria since it was first reported in 1912.
“This disease thrives in low to medium income countries of Africa and Asia affecting mostly children of school age due to ignorance. It is estimated globally that 70,000 people die of rabies annually.
“Some of the constraints in the control of this disease in Nigeria is that majority of dogs are unlicensed, unvaccinated and allowed to roam freely in the communities.
“Also, dog to human population ratio is high as dogs are increasingly being bred and used for hunting, security and companionship purposes among others. In Nigeria, it has been reported that less than 5% of dogs are vaccinated due to high cost of the vaccine.
“”As a result of the increase in the number of cases globally and the impact on public health, the tripartite collaboration of WHO, OIE and FAO set an agenda for the eradication of dog-mediated human rabies by the year 2030.
“In our effort to achieve this global target, the department of veterinary and pest control services sought for additional international support and OIE responded by donating 200,000 doses of Anti-Rabies Vaccine (ARV) to the country. This is to assist us in the control of rabies.
“It is extremely important for everyone to know and understand the role each of us play in order to adequately combat this deadly disease. It is my sincere hope that at the end of this campaign each of you here present would have learnt something new about rabies and how to protect yourself and community from coming in contact with the virus,” he said.