Research on kudu rabies in Namibia begins

Sufficient funds have been raised to start with research on the ongoing kudu rabies epidemic that has annihilated thousands of kudu in Namibia since 2001, according to Dr Reiner Hassel, Agra’s animal health technical advisor.

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Hassel said the 2001 outbreak was the second outbreak of rabies amongst the country’s greater kudu since the seventies.

The first epidemic started in 1977 and lasted for nine years. Indications are that the rabies virus underwent fine genetic changes and is maintained in the Namibian kudu population.

The first group of kudu will be caught and settled in research bomas on a farm near Kalkfeld. The object of the research project is to determine whether the rabies virus is distributed through direct contact and to test vaccines.

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It is especially hoped the research will develop a vaccine that could be administered to kudu through species-specific bait, according to Hassel.

“We need additional funds to follow up the current research with field and bait trails. This will be the first time ever that ruminants are orally vaccinated against rabies,” he said.