RESQ Against Rabies

The number of animals in the city has been exponentially growing, and the number of Rabies-suspected animals being reported to us has been on an incline since the end of 2016. RESQ reached out to Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE supported by the Wellcome Trust, U.K. / Department of Biotechnology, Government of India Alliance program) and collaborated with them on several projects that are involved in tackling this issue at the root.

RESQ against RABIES Projects

  1. RABIES Surveillance, Quarantine and Testing Facility

    Every animal that is reported to RESQ is screened for Rabies. Animals that show positive signs for Rabies are safely isolated and humanely monitored. An animal afflicted with Rabies usually passes away within 10-14 days, and brain tissue samples of these animals are then tested post-mortem using a Rabies Antigen Testing Kit.

    The samples are then sent to NIMHANS Bangalore, a WHO-accredited facility, for confirmatory tests to help in understanding how rabies spreads across dog populations, the effect of the size of the dog population on spread rates, and the impact of ongoing control measures in reducing the spread.

    We have also implemented the following:

    • City-wide Helpline for citizens to report suspected cases of small and large stray animals
    • Mobile squads across city rapidly respond to any suspected rabies case
    • Once reported, animals are brought in, admitted, and monitored in quarantine wards
    • Anigen-Rapid Rabies Antigen Testing conducted ante and post mortem onsite
    • Samples sent to NIMHANS, Bangalore for RT-PCR
  2. Population Level Sero-Survey of Rabies Antibodies

    To ascertain the immunity level of the dog population in Pune against Rabies via measuring Rabies Antibodies sero levels.

  3. Population Estimation / Census

    The goal is to estimate the population of free-ranging dogs in Pune City. This activity is a critical factor to be considered whilst planning any project involving free-ranging dogs, and to measure the impact of any work/project undertaken with the goal of reducing human-animal conflict in urban areas. RESQ and ATREE together thus developed an Animal Population Estimation App using the Capture-Recapture Method to estimate the street dog population in the city.

  4. Population Dynamics Cohort Study and Vaccine Efficacy Studies

    The goal is to study the dynamics of the free-ranging population of dogs in order to gain scientific insight on important factors that affect street animals as well as determine the efficacy of vaccination initiatives.

    This is one of the first research projects in India to examine the dynamics of Rabies in free-ranging dogs. This project will help in understanding how rabies spreads across dog populations, the effect of the size of the dog population on spread rates, and the impact of ongoing control measures in reducing the spread. The project also aims to generate awareness amongst the public in steps to take if anyone is bitten by a dog, especially if it is an unprovoked attack.

The Plan Ahead: A Rabies-Free Tomorrow!

Exact locations from where the Rabies positive cases have come are plotted on a map. The Rabies mapping arrived at indicates affected areas. In January 2018, the RESQ team began Mass Anti-Rabies Vaccination Drives at the rate of 1000-1500 dogs per month. Colour-coded riveted collars are affixed to identify vaccinated dogs and the year they were vaccinated in using a 3-year efficacy vaccine. The project also aims to educate and generate awareness amongst the public about steps to be taken if a dog bites anyone, especially if it is an unprovoked attack.