Laboratory requests farmers to report kudu rabies

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Staff Reporter
Windhoek

A renewed call is made upon farmers and hunting farms to be on the lookout for incidents of rabies among any animals and to submit samples of animals which might be affected to the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Windhoek.

The occurrence of kudu rabies is on the increase, especially east of Windhoek. It is necessary to get as many samples as possible and not only for kudu but also for eland, jackal and other wildlife, as well as livestock. This outbreak comes as Namibia is edging closer to a possible world first for developing an anti-rabies vaccine for kudus after a research team concluded that the results achieved so far in the Rabies in Kudu Project fully justify the implementation of the second phase to develop such a vaccine.
A quarantine camp was erected on the farm of Peter Clausen in the Otavi area where the first phase was successfully completed. The current stock of all equipment, drugs, medicines and consumables is expected to be mostly sufficient to last until the conclusion of the project.

Explaining the results of the first phase, team leader of the project, Dr Rainer Hassel, says the objectives of Phase 2 will be the completion of the successful development of an effective and practical oral vaccination method, and the long-term evaluation of the efficacy of the intra-muscular vaccination with an inactivated vaccine.

The preliminary oral vaccine trials including challenge infections have been concluded with moderate results. The bait trials have been completed successfully, rendering excellent results. Evaluation of the epidemiological survey is still in progress as well as artificial transmission trials. The serological survey has also been completed successfully rendering unexpected results. The successful completion of most activities and achievement of most objectives with the results obtained warrants the continuation of the project. The only objective is to develop an effective and practical method of oral vaccination of kudus against rabies and to determine the duration of immunity of the animals in the intra-muscular vaccine group.

Namibia is spending N$600 million annually to import vaccines and pharmaceuticals for its livestock sector. The most convenient manner is to submit the head of an animal to the laboratory. The head can be transported in a strong refuse plastic bag in a cool storage. Fresh samples would be ideal but there is a new method to do tests on samples which are a few days old. Care should be taken when working with the dead animal and it is recommended that gloves and a mask are worn to prevent contamination. The laboratory should also be informed on which farm the animal was found, the owner of the farm as well as information about the symptoms, etc.

Dr Hassel can be contacted for further information or to assist with the delivery of the samples to the laboratory at telephone number: 061 2909331, 081 3324514, rainerh@agra.com.na. The contact person at the Central Veterinary Laboratory is Dr Jolandie van der Westhuizen, Section Head: Pathology, Parasitology and Virology Diagnostics, telephone number: 061 237684, fax 061 221099. The laboratory is situated at 24 Goethe Street in Windhoek.

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