Dr Grace Kia, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria, is collaborating with Professor Katie Hampson, University of Glasgow, to enhance the surveillance of rabies outbreaks in Nigeria, to help control and eliminate the disease.
Although vaccine preventable, rabies currently kills at least 1600 people a year in Nigeria, and under-diagnosed and under-reported cases may mean this number is considerably higher. Deficient disease reporting tools, and a lack of trained individuals able to detect, report, collate and interpret surveillance data, mean that the establishment of the current surveillance system for rabies in Nigeria has been challenging. Animal surveillance within Nigeria is also insufficient, and outbreaks may be left not investigated and not responded to.
Dr Grace Kia, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria, has previously generated whole genome sequencing (WGS) of the rabies virus in Africa, and will use our Meade Collaboration Travel Grant in Epidemiology to help develop her programming and epidemiology skills. This will aid the analysis of this data, in conjunction with partial genome data available to the public, to characterise the rabies virus.
Dr Kia has also been trained in integrated bite case management (IBCM), in preparation for the subsequent training of healthcare workers for her six months IBCM feasibility study that began in January 2023. Dr Kia will further utilise the funds to analyse data from this study, allowing an estimation of the impact of control and prevention measures on the burden of rabies to be made.
Building on a collaboration with Professor Katie Hampson, University of Glasgow, Dr Kia will develop her programming, bioinformatic, scientific writing and presentation skills, allowing her to better guide future scientific researchers in Africa. She aims to support to development of a ‘One Health’ workforce in Nigeria, able to build upon communication, surveillance, investigation, and response to rabies outbreaks.