Virtual workshop: Preparing for and dealing with incursion of an infectious disease - rabies


Rabies is one of the deadliest zoonoses, killing nearly 59,000 people worldwide each year. Over 95% of human cases of rabies are due to dog bites and we have the tools needed to eradicate it. Although rabies is endemic throughout much of Asia, many countries—particularly in the Pacific region—remain free from the disease. However, these countries are still at risk of disease incursion and vigilance is key to remaining free from rabies. A risk assessment study conducted by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE) in 2019 showed large scale movement of dogs by land and sea across South East Asia – these pose a threat to many areas in the region, including island countries. To this end, many countries have various legislations such as biosecurity or sanitary protection laws which include contingency policies to tackle a potential incursion.


Considering the COVID-19 pandemic situation, WOAH is holding a series of virtual meetings for the Asia and Pacific region to share updates, progresses and tools from the organisation and partners, and also experiences from countries. Meetings are being organised for endemic countries in ASEAN and SAARC – the focus of these is on rabies control and elimination. However, for non-endemic countries, it is more appropriate to focus on prevention measures, risk communication skills, and contingency plans should an incursion of rabies occur. Many of the principles of biosecurity and contingency planning are applicable to other zoonoses and skills from this workshop can be applied to other diseases.


The objectives of this workshop were to:

  • Highlight the need for good biosecurity plans and rabies surveillance activities to protect from disease incursions.
  • Identify potential gaps in biosecurity and contingency action plans for rabies incursion.
  • Discuss of multi-sectoral preparedness against rabies incursion.
  • Understand the importance of media engagement and community communication, particularly in a disease outbreak situation.
  • Undertake a “desktop exercise” to practice management of a hypothetical scenario of rabies incursion.



The meeting was held virtually over three 3-hour sessions, using the Zoom platform. The simulation exercise also involved the Conducttr© crisis simulation exercise platform.


Agenda and presentations

The final agenda with links to presentations can be found here.