The United States (US) has placed a ban on the importation of dogs into the country from Nigeria and 112 other countries on account of doubt on the effective and sustainable vaccination of dogs against rabies.

The President, Veterinary Council of Nigeria, Dr. Aishatu Baju, made this disclosure during the official inauguration of the ultra-modern Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Abuja.

She said that the facility was intended to provide quality veterinary diagnostic services to the FCT including its neighbour, Nasarawa State.

“Animal diseases diagnosis is an important component of veterinary services. I have no doubt in my mind that this laboratory will provide the much needed accurate, rapid and dependable diagnosis and effectively tackle the menace of animal diseases in FCT and it’s environs.”

Speaking further, Baju said that the flag-off of vaccination against dog-mediated rabies in the FCT is pivoted as it is commendable.

Also speaking, the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria, Dr. Olaniran Alabi, said the need to have such a facility can never be overemphasised considering how highly fatal rabies affect all warm-blooded animals.

According to Alabi, no fewer than 70,000 people die annually from rabies, despite the disease being 100 per cent preventable through mass dog vaccination, public enlightenment campaigns and control of stray dogs.

“Dogs account for 99 per cent of human deaths resulting from rabies. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), recommends that at least 70per cent of dogs should be vaccinated annually for three consecutive years to be able to break the transmission cycle of rabies and consequently the elimination of the disease.

“Some of the constraints in the control of this disease in Nigeria is that majority of dogs are unvaccinated (less than five per cent of dogs are vaccinated due to high cost of the vaccine), unlicensed and allowed to roam freely in the communities,” he said.

He added that in a bid to achieve this global target, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development through the Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, sought for additional international support to which the World Organisation for Animal Health responded by donating 200,000 doses of Anti-Rabies Vaccine to the country.

“Consequently, this vaccine was distributed to all the states and FCT based on their reporting status and the number of confirmed cases in the last three years.”