Animal rage

  1. Health situation at national level

Rabies has been an enzootic disease in Morocco for several decades. It is spread over most of the country with varying degrees. The dog is the main vector and reservoir (31% of cases) and is the source of all rabies contamination. Cattle are the first victim of dog bites, followed by equidae. An annual average of 391 cases of animal rabies (all species combined: 2000-2010). The disease is prevalent in rural areas with 81% of average rabies reports between 2004-2010. Hence the need to strengthen the fight against this disease in rural areas.

Rabies is still a major public health problem (an annual average of 22 cases of human rabies was recorded between 2000 and 2010). Hence the need for genuine and sustained intersectoral collaboration.

  1. Management program

The main lines of control of animal rabies have been described in the framework of the control strategy developed in 2000 by the National Office of Health Security of Food Products [ONSSA] (e.g. Directorate of Livestock/Ministry of Agriculture). These focus on actions directed to the canine population, namely:

  • Medical measures, by vaccination of at least 70% of dogs to owner;
  • Health measures, through the management of stray dog populations (targeted and continuous slaughter);

The implementation of accompanying measures in particular through genuine inter-ministerial collaboration, the updating of regulations, regular public awareness actions, regular epidemiological surveillance of the disease, the establishment of appropriate infrastructure and equipment (fitting out of impoundments, upgrading of slaughterhouses and rural killings, closure of landfills, etc.).

  1. Evaluation of control measures

The control of animal rabies is part of the regular programmes of the competent national authorities. The evaluation of the control measures undertaken since 2000 to control animal rabies has shown that this zoonosis continues to affect the enzootic state in the country despite an apparent overall decrease in the number of new cases per year (all regions combined) In the period 2000-2010. However, the actions carried out in the field of medical and health prophylaxis remain insufficient to ensure effective control of the disease and must therefore be strengthened and regularly carried out with a view to achieving the desired objectives.

  1. Constraints and prospects

The fight against animal rabies involves several ministerial departments, the main ones being represented by Agriculture, Interior and Health. Despite the existence of an adequate control strategy, the results of the implementation of the programme for the control of this zoonosis are insufficient and the disease continues to affect the enzootic state at national level both in animals and in humans.

Several constraints are at the origin of the persistence of this disease, the main ones are:

  1. Insufficient measures to combat the disease (medical and health measures);
  2. The multiplicity of stakeholders and insufficient interdepartmental collaboration, despite the existence of an interdepartmental circular signed in 2003 between the three ministries concerned;
  3. The lack of resources;
  4. Lack of public awareness of the importance and severity of rabies;
  5. Inadequate management of garbage (landfills) and rural killing;
  6. A poor knowledge of the socio-ecology of the canine population (in terms of its dynamics, its social life, the status of the dog, etc.).

Also and considering that rabies is a sectoral problem, its struggle can only be sectoral. Consequently, the prospects for improving the fight against rabies in Morocco are based on the following points:

  • Improving infrastructure (rural killings, landfills, etc.);
  • Strengthening cross-sectoral collaboration and revitalizing provincial rabies committees;
  • Continuation and intensification of medical prophylaxis by parenteral route (mass vaccination of dogs to owner) and adequate management of stray fringe (targeted elimination of stray dogs). In this sense, a more active and sustained involvement of municipalities in the fight against rabies is desired, including in terms of medical prophylaxis;
  • The development and implementation of oral vaccination of inaccessible or difficult-to-access dogs as a complement to parenteral vaccination;
  • Regular public education and awareness of the disease.