Afya Serengeti, which means “Health for Serengeti” in Swahili, started as a research project in the Serengeti in 1997. Led by Sarah Cleaveland, DVM, Afya Serengeti is now a rabies control project that works with local people in the Serengeti to ensure widespread vaccination of domestic dogs.
The project has set up a vaccination zone around the Serengeti National Park with regular clinics where pet owners can bring their pets to be registered, vaccinated, and marked with a plastic collar to signify their protection from rabies.
Village-based clinics are extremely valuable in an area where domestic dogs serve multiple purposes. These dogs act as security guards, protecting livestock from predators. They are used routinely in hunting. And they also serve as family companions. In the Serengeti, domestic dogs account for 84.2% of rabies cases.1
The project relies on partners, such as Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside the US and Canada), to continue vaccination efforts year after year with a goal toward eradication. Due to the overwhelming support of veterinarians around the globe, Merck Animal Health has been able to donate more than 1 million doses of rabies vaccine to the Afya Serengeti project. The company has also donated additional resources, such as a Land Rover and a medical tent, to help expand the project's efforts to the distant corners of the Serengeti.
The project's successes include:
- Hospitalizations due to rabid dogs bites have been reduced by 92%1
- Rabies has been eliminated from the Serengeti National Park itself and the adjacent Ngorongoro district
- There have been no reported rabies outbreaks in areas where a 70% vaccination rate has been achieved4
- The population of African wild dogs in and around the park has increased by 17% each year2
The Afya Serengeti team remains committed to maintaining vaccination coverage, working toward the eventual eradication of rabies in the region. Because of the remarkable success of vaccination efforts in the Serengeti, plans are also underway to expand the project into other countries.
to receive an e-newsletter from the Alliance for Rabies Control that provides the latest news and updates on projects around the world working to eradicate rabies.