Canine Rabies Officially Confirmed in Liberia

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Monrovia – Canine Rabies has been officially confirmed in Liberia by authorities of the One Health coordination platform.

The confirmation comes following public health action taken by health authorities and investigation in affected communities.

One Health Coordination Platform is a combination of the Ministry of Agriculture, Health, Commerce, Forestry Development Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, National Disaster Management Agency, National Public Health Institute of Liberia and development partners.

Rabies is a deadly but preventable disease, transmitted from an infected animal to humans (zoonotic disease), usually via a bite wound inflicted by an infected or rabid animal.

Licks on open sores and scratches from infected animals may also pose a risk to developing rabies.

According to one health platform, preliminary testing conducted at Ministry of Agriculture Central Veterinary Reference Laboratory has identified the virus common among dogs in Liberia.

A communication from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said

Confirmatory testing was done at the World Organization for Animal Health (OlE) Accredited Reference Laboratory in Italy as required by International authorities, following testing in Liberia.

The statement furthered that the confirmed cases were from Monsterrado and Margibi counties.

According to the communication, data from the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) states that more than 2,000 suspected rabies cases have been attributed to human exposure to animal bites, since 2017.

“Majority of the suspected reported cases from NPHIL in 2017 were from Monserrado, Nimba, Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties,” the statement noted.

“One Health authorities under the leadership of Vice Jewel Howard Taylor is encouraging the public to take the following preventive measures. Report any sick or dead dog to the county health team or Ministry of Agriculture or the nearest health facility,” One Health Platform asserted.

At the same time, the group has warned individuals to void bothering dogs while they are eating and holding them by their tails.

“If bitten by a dog, wash the affected area with soap and running water for at least 15 minutes and go to the nearest health facility,” it said. “Do not kill the dog or wild animal when bitten.”

The group also called on people to report any case of dog bite to the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and National Public Institute of Liberia (NPHIL).

It also admonished citizens against eating dog meat and at the same time prevent dogs from licking human body parts.

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