Contributing to Public Health
Contributing to Public Health
We provide a range of vaccines, treatments and educational tools to keep companion animals and livestock healthy to help ensure a stable food supply and help control organisms that can ultimately affect the health of people.
Global trade, global migration and climate change are increasing the spread of highly infectious diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, lumpy skin disease, African swine fever and peste des petits ruminants, and zoonotic diseases—such as avian flu. Animal health and human health are inextricably linked: highly infectious diseases have a direct impact on food production and the livelihood of farming families, leading to malnutrition and poverty, while zoonotic diseases directly impact human lives. Vaccination, alongside education, can help control such diseases in the animal reservoir, reduce the likelihood of spread to humans and minimize the medical, social and economic impact that could occur if left unchecked.
“Strengthening the knowledge exchange between animal health and human health researchers to identify opportunities to prevent disease transmission is more important now than ever. Improving animal health may help to improve human health.”
Richard R. DeLuca, Jr.
President, MSD Animal Health
Food-borne bacteria, such as salmonella, are a continuing concern, particularly for poultry farmers. Human consumption of poultry or eggs infected with bacteria can result in severe illness, pushing governments and industry to implement adequate measures to reduce this risk. We have developed a Food Safety Platform for poultry farmers that includes several salmonella vaccines and services that ensure effective, timely intervention if an outbreak occurs among poultry. Through the unique Convenience Program Evaluation, our Animal Health business helps poultry producers to identify critical food-safety hazard points in order to be prepared to respond quickly and effectively. This combination of vaccines, biosecurity and other measures has contributed significantly to the reduction in incidence of human salmonellosis.
Our Animal Health canine preventive product protects dogs against sandfly-borne leishmaniasis, helping to control one of the world’s deadliest parasitic diseases in the animal reservoir, linked to 60,000 human deaths annually.
Our products help to minimize the annual human deaths from animal-borne diseases.
Rabies, a fatal neurological disease, is widespread throughout Asia and Africa, with more than 59,000 people1—mostly children—dying from the disease each year after being bitten by dogs, the main carriers of the disease. The burden of rabies has the highest impact on the public health budgets, local communities and livestock economies in the poorest regions of the world. The vast majority of rabies fatalities occur in Asia (59.6 percent) and Africa (36.4 percent). India, the world’s second most populated country, accounts for 35 percent of all human rabies deaths, but the per-person death rate is highest in the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Our Animal Health business has a history in rabies control. As dogs are the source of the vast majority of human rabies deaths (accounting for up to 99 percent of all rabies transmissions to humans), rabies elimination is feasible by vaccinating dogs.
In 1997, our Animal Health business began supporting the Afya Serengeti Initiative in the Serengeti region of Tanzania by donating canine rabies vaccines and this support continues. We also provided tools such as all-terrain vehicles and tents to help make sure the project was able to reach the most remote corners of the region. In 2011, the project was extended to the Kenyan villages bordering the Serengeti National Park, resulting in an unbroken vaccination circle around the Serengeti Park. Rabies in humans and domestic animals has now been virtually eliminated from this area, and we have also seen a resurgence in the African wild dog population in the Serengeti. This species is categorized as endangered, and as a direct result of the efforts to manage disease the population of these animals is on the rise.
The success of the Afya Serengeti Project inspired us in 2013 to extend our support to the newly founded Mission Rabies project. Mission Rabies focuses on addressing the need for vaccination and education in rabies hotspots in Asia and Africa. The first vaccination campaign took place in targeted locations in India, followed by expansion of the initiative to other parts of India, and to areas of Africa, including Malawi. The geography covered by Mission Rabies continues to grow annually, as does the number of doses that we donate to both the Afya Serengeti Initiative and to Mission Rabies. Not only have we provided vaccines, but our employees have also participated in the vaccination campaigns, making a real difference on the ground as well as taking part in a life-changing experience. We are proud of our involvement in these initiatives and in their role toward the global goal of eradicating rabies by 2030.
|1. Hampson K, Coudeville L, Lembo T, Sambo M, Kieffer A, Attlan M, et al. Estimating the global burden of endemic canine rabies. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2015; 9(4): e0003709. doi:10.1371/journal. pntd.0003709.|