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Allen School News Spring 2015

World Rabies Day

World Rabies Day is Monday, September 28

Dog in community
The WSU Rabies Vaccination Program team vaccinates an average of 300 dogs each day in Tanzania and Kenya, creating a rabies free zone that can be used as a model for Africa and Asia.

Join us in the effort to eliminate rabies globally and help move us closer to a world where no child dies from canine rabies. Together we can make a difference. Visit

Message from the WSU Senior Director of Global Health | Spring 2015

Perhaps you noticed a change in the title of this column. On July 6, I stepped down as director of the Allen School to take on the broader global health role as WSU’s senior director of global health. This university-wide leadership position will catalyze new global health challenge initiatives and bring more breadth and depth of global health scholarship to all WSU academic units.

An expanding health vision for WSU and the Allen School is also the goal of other recently announced changes in leadership. We welcomed Dr. Tim Bazsler to our team as the head of global health surveillance. Dr. Terry McElwain has stepped down from his position as associate director to focus his time on program development and disease surveillance programs around the world. These leadership changes will provide us with the structures to move forward into our next growth phase.

Improving public health and human opportunity has always been at the core of the Allen School mission, largely focused around the animal–human interface. Through my service both within the National Academies and the Consortium for Universities in Global Health, I have become increasingly aware of the need to bring the full expertise of the university to bear on needed approaches to improve global health. Allen School faculty are already leaders with multidisciplinary expertise at WSU. Doug Call’s NSFfunded program in Tanzania is an excellent example. Together, anthropologists, economists, molecular epidemiologists, and sociologists are all working together to achieve the specific goals of improving global health. In my new role, I will be able to better foster and accelerate this type of multidisciplinary research and expand the work we do. My commitment, and that of the college and university, to the Allen School will remain without compromise.


Guy Palmer,
Creighton Endowed Chair and
WSU Senior Director of Global Health

Student and Fellow News | Spring 2015

Congratulations to Victoria Olsen-Mikitowicz, Barbara Panata, and Melissa Steinmetz of the DVM Class of 2015 who earned professional certificates in global animal health. All three will be joining private veterinary practices immediately after graduation to hone their clinical veterinary skills before returning to global health interests.

Over the summer six newly accepted certificate students conducted their major projects around the world.

Julia Vanderford (’17 DVM) and Sarah Eichler (’17 DVM) worked with Dr. Thumbi Mwangi on aspects of the PBASS program in Kisumu, Kenya.

Trisha Paulos (’17 DVM) and Cassie Eakins (’16 DVM) joined Dr. Felix Lankester to evaluate parasitism in dogs in the rabies program.

Kat Reardon (’17 DVM) will be working in the lab in Pullman with Allen School faculty member Dr. Hector Aguilar-Carreño on Nipah virus.

Lance Kidder (’18 DVM) worked in Pullman in Jennifer Zambriski’s lab helping to understand Cryptosporidium infections in calves.

Kelsey Brown (’18 DVM) traveled to Kibera, a part of Nairobi, Kenya, to study antimicrobial resistance under the direction of Dr. Doug Call.

Faculty News | Spring 2015

Baszler Photo

Dr. Timothy Baszler has joined the Allen School as head of global health surveillance. Dr. Baszler, executive director of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab, is also a professor in the WSU microbiology and pathology department. His research includes infectious disease diagnosis and surveillance, new test method development and validation, and biomedical laboratory accreditation.
Terry McElwain 3.13

Dr. Terry McElwain has stepped down from his position as associate director in the Allen School to focus his time on program development. He played a major role in developing the Allen School East Africa program and in the school’s efforts to increase global biosafety and biosecurity. He will continue as a full-time faculty member working to develop and implement disease surveillance programs around the world. He will work closely with Dr. Tim Baszler, now the head of global health surveillance in the Allen School.
Felix Lankester

Dr. Felix Lankester received a $100,000 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Exploration Grant. Lankester will use the fund to learn whether supplementing a Tanzanian school-based drug administration program—aimed at reducing neglected tropical diseases—with a popular dog rabies vaccination campaign to eliminate rabies will improve the coverage and impact of both programs and make the delivery of rabies vaccinations more cost effective

Partnering with Veterinarians and Clients to End Rabies

by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ‘04

Boy with puppies and line
The WSU rabies vaccination team sees firsthand how important vaccination is to dog owners. Although many in rural Africa may not be able to pay for the vaccine, they walk many miles to have their dog vaccinated.


Beginning in the summer of 2015, the Allen School is partnering with veterinary clinics and their clients to eliminate rabies as a public health problem worldwide. The goal is zero human deaths by 2030.

“We are partnering with veterinary clinics around the country because together we can do more than we could ever do alone,” says Guy Palmer, WSU Senior Director of Global Health.

Each year more than 59,000 people die from rabies worldwide and about half of those deaths are children under the age of 16. In developed countries, such as the United States, rabies is quite rare because of access to vaccinations. But in many developing countries, rabies is not under control. Globally, more than 99% of human rabies deaths are caused by dog bites—almost all of these in Africa and Asia. Vaccinating 70 percent of the dog population will protect humans and wildlife, such as lions, from the disease.

“Rabies is easily preventable with regular dog vaccinations,” says Palmer.

One of the main reasons rabies continues to be so prevalent in many parts of the world is challenges in getting the vaccinations to the most vulnerable people in resource-poor countries, says Palmer. “In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia where the death rates are the highest, there is no reliable system to get vaccinations to where they are needed most.”

Many areas in rural Africa also do not have electricity; currently the vaccine needs to be stored at cold temperatures. And governments in many countries have historically put their resources into treating the disease with postexposure prophylaxis, a series of post-bite inoculations that must be started within the first 24 hours after a person is bitten by a rabid dog. If it is not administered in time and symptoms appear, the disease is always fatal. Because of the narrow window for treatment and the treatment’s high cost, post-exposure prophylaxis has not been effective in reducing deaths in resource-poor countries.

Research in Tanzania and other countries has now convinced the World Health Organization and national governing bodies that canine vaccination can be effectively used for global elimination, says Palmer. Vaccinations are also a much more cost effective option.

“The direct costs of post-exposure prophylaxis are 20 times higher than the amount spent on dog vaccination in affected countries,” says Palmer. “Even the cost of the vaccine is too much for many families.”

Together with global partners* the Allen School is already making a difference. Each year the vaccination team visits 180 villages in seven districts adjacent to the Serengeti National Park. Each day they vaccinate an average of 300 dogs. The result is that the vaccination zone—a cordon sanitaire—is now rabies free. The Allen School is confident that this rabies-free vaccination zone is an illustrative model for other parts of subSaharan Africa and south Asia.

“We have all the tools needed to eliminate rabies, we only need to deploy them,” says Palmer. “One major challenge is creating a reliable vaccine bank that would provide a consistent and affordable vaccine supply for countries to draw on and then replenish.”

Palmer has set a goal to raise $10 million to develop a reliable vaccine bank and improved distribution in high-risk area of Africa and Asia. Through partnerships with veterinary clinics and others committed to eliminating rabies, Palmer knows they can make an even bigger difference for communities and for the people who live with rabies as a reality every day.

“We have all the tools needed to eliminate rabies, we only need to deploy them.” —Guy Palmer WSU Senior Director of Global Health

“When I am in Africa working with our vaccination team, I see firsthand how important vaccination is to dog owners,” says Palmer. “Although they may not be able to pay in cash for the vaccine, they will walk many miles just to be able have their dog vaccinated.”

The Allen School has partners around the world including the Global Alliance for Rabies Control as an umbrella organization, the World Health Organization, the World Organisation for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Our research in Tanzania is in cooperation with the Serengeti Health Initiative and the University of Glasgow.


Learn how you can help support the WSU Rabies Vaccination Program at



Faculty News | Spring 2015

William Sischo has been awarded a USDA-NIFA grant of $2.2 million for his project “Integrating Biology, Psychology, and Ecology to Mitigate Antibiotic Resistance in Food Animal Production Systems.” Drs. Douglas Call, Margaret Davis and Dale Moore are co-PIs on the project.

Douglas Call was named a fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Student and Fellow News | Spring 2015

Congratulations to graduate student Jackie Stone (advisor Hector Aguilar-Carreno) and Carolynn Fitterer (’16 DVM; advisor Gretchen Kaufman) who were awarded first and second place respectively for their posters at the 16th annual College of Veterinary Medicine Student Research Symposium on October 30.

Matt Sammons (’16 DVM) won first place in the 2014 Zoobiquity Conference student poster competition held November 1 in Seattle. Sammons’s poster was titled “One House-One Health approach to childhood growth and development: Identifying and resetting high-risk household gut microbiomes.”  He is a student in the Global Animal Health Professional Certificate Program and is mentored by Dr. Douglas Call.

Message from the Director | Spring 2015

Guy Palmer, director of the Allen School and Creighton Chair
Guy Palmer, director of the Allen School and Creighton Chair

Dr. Thumbi Mwangi’s work into connecting livestock health with the health of mothers and their children is at the center of the Allen School’s efforts to reduce the high level of physical and cognitive stunting in African children.  This research will not only identify which interventions are most effective, but the data collected will create the evidence base for broader intervention at community and national levels.  At the Allen School, we believe an interdisciplinary approach is key to solving global issues.  When a major global health priority, such as reducing physical and cognitive stunting, is the goal, a dynamic team of medical anthropologists, epidemiologists, nutritionists, and information technologists, as well as physicians and veterinarians comes together to work toward a common solution.  This type of collaborative work and helping people around the world is the original vision of what the Allen School was created to do.

Guy Palmer
Creighton Endowed Chair and Director of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health

Tracking Animal Disease to Improve Human Health

by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ‘04

Victoria Olsen-Mikitowicz (’15 DVM) spent one month in Kenya working on several research projects including the population-based animal syndromic surveillance project, or PBASS. She plans to pursue a career in veterinary public health, education, and research in global animal health.

In rural Kenyan villages where few families have electricity or indoor plumbing, a surprising technology helps researchers study the health of animals and people: the cell phone.

Families who are part of the population-based animal syndromic surveillance project, or PBASS, use their cell phones to call a veterinarian toll free when an animal is sick. More than 70 percent of families participating in the survey have cell phones; only three percent are connected to the electricity grid.

“Mobile telephony is actually very well developed in most of Africa, especially in Kenya,” says Thumbi Mwangi, clinical assistant professor in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, who has been collecting data since the survey began in February 2013.

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