World Rabies Day: A splash of colour can make all the difference


World Rabies Day happens on 28 September every year. This World Rabies Day we are celebrating the first anniversary of Kenya’s National Rabies Elimination strategy - the first African country to have such a plan.

Mass vaccination doesn’t just eliminate rabies, it eliminates the fear of rabies and the negative perception that puts innocent dogs at risk of culls.

These dogs have been vaccinated against rabies – and marked with a life-saving splash of colour that declares to the community that they pose no threat. The vaccination saves them from both being infected with rabies and from being culled due to fear of the disease.

Working alongside the government in Kenya, World Animal Protection is establishing a pilot vaccine program in Makueni County, home to 125,000 dogs. Makueni has the highest incidence of rabies in Kenya. The loss of life from rabies is tragic and entirely preventable with mass dog vaccination as a key solution to helping solve the problem.

We know mass vaccination is the only way to wipe out rabies, protect both people and dogs from the disease, and end the cruel and senseless practice of dog culling.

There are more than 100 million dogs in Africa. By showing that mass vaccination works in Makueni, we can prove it will work across the whole of Africa, and save all of these dogs from the risk of an unnecessary death.

Mass vaccination doesn’t just eliminate rabies, it eliminates the fear of rabies and the negative perception that puts innocent dogs at risk of culls.

All it takes to save them is a splash of colour

Our rabies work in other regions


World Animal Protection has worked with the Zanzibar government to introduce dog population management and mass dog vaccination. Since 2008 there’s been a decrease in dog bite incidences, and no rabies cases in humans have been reported yet this year. No culling of dogs has taken place.


Bangladesh used to have one of the highest rates of human rabies cases in the world. In response, the inhumane culling of dogs carried on for decades. However, after lobbying by World Animal Protection and other organisations, Bangladesh is successfully implementing MDV – and no culling – across the country. Human rabies deaths are rapidly falling; a 90% decrease is expected to be achieved by Dec 2015.

We are funding six vets to work with local governments to secure ‘no culling’ agreements as part of their MDV plans.


In 2012, World Animal Protection worked with the Centre for Animal Disease Control to set up three pilot projects, aiming to prove that mass dog vaccination works. 80,000 dogs have been vaccinated in two rounds of vaccinations. The third and final round will take place the day after World Rabies Day. So far, no human rabies cases have been reported in the pilot project areas.


We work on Nias Island, in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Rabies, to show MDV as the way forward. In the first two rounds, around 60,000 vaccinations have taken place. We also work with the FAO, on Flores and Lembata islands, and in the first round of vaccinations in 2014, over 200,000 dogs were vaccinated. The second round of vaccinations has just finished and we are waiting for confirmation of the number of dogs vaccinated.

Millions of dogs are still culled each year in fruitless efforts to stop rabies spreading. Read more about our work to help end inhumane culling.