November 17, 2023:- Chief Technical Officer (CTO) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF), Dr. Simone Titus, is urging her technical counterparts on the sister isle to be vigilant as no one is immune from rabies infection. Dr. Titus made her comments on Thursday, November 16th, 2023, during a presentation at a sensitization session on the prevention and control of rabies in Buccoo, Tobago.
The session stemmed from an invitation by the Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment, and Sustainable Development (Tobago House of Assembly) for technocrats in MALF to bring awareness of the rabies disease, and ascertain whether reports received about suspected cases of vampire bat-biting in specific areas, were true.
While Tobago has not yet reported the presence of the vampire bat vector, Dr. Titus iterated the importance of MALF taking proactive measures to bolster its efforts in protecting the health and safety of the livestock population and human handlers in Tobago, by sharing the effectiveness of control programmes, outcomes and lessons learned from the Trinidad experience.
The CTO emphasized that, “With the movement of diseases globally and regionally, no one is immune from the impact of rabies and this is why we believe that it is necessary to host this sensitization session, so that Tobago can tailor its prevention and awareness campaigns and strategies, effectively.”
According to Dr. Titus, among some of the key ‘take-aways’ from the Trinidad rabies outbreak was the significance of early detection, rapid response and a coordinated approach to vaccination campaigns. She emphasized too, the crucial role of public education and awareness in promoting responsible livestock/animal ownership and reporting any suspicious animal behaviour. Additionally, the CTO stressed the need for enhanced surveillance systems, the importance of the identification and management of at-risk animals and continued collaboration between government agencies, veterinary professionals and the public, in achieving successful outcomes.
The sensitization session followed an earlier field visit to the Buccoo/Carnbee/Golden Grove community in Tobago, where participants assessed firsthand, the efforts undertaken by local authorities and livestock farmers, to tackle the threat of any potential rabies outbreak.
For further information on the Anti-Rabies Unit, persons are asked to visit the Ministry’s website at: https://bit.ly/malf-aru
Rabies, a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals, including humans, poses a significant threat to public health and animal welfare. The disease is primarily transmitted through the bites of infected vampire bats and has an incubation period ranging from one week to one year, with the disease becoming fatal within a span of 2 to 10 days once clinical signs appear.
Photo caption: RAB 1: Technical Officers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries at a field visit to a livestock farm off Shirvan Road in Buccoo, Tobago, on Thursday 16th November, 2023.
– END –