Mass Canine Vaccination: Can Canine Rabies be Eradicated in Africa and Asia?

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Rabies encephalitis: Image courtesy of CDC/Dr. Daniel P. Perl

How the Mass Canine Vaccination Programs Work

It isn’t necessary to vaccinate every single dog to reduce the incidence of rabies. If 70% or more of an area’s dog population is vaccinated, the incidence of rabies declines dramatically. Dr. Lembo and colleagues also found that the number of stray dogs in African communities is actually quite low. A mark-recapture study of three sites in Chad found only 1%, 8% and 11% of the dogs to be unowned, with similar results in other countries. Added to that, owner response to vaccination programs is generally positive, making it reasonably easy to meet the target numbers of dogs. Combined with education and support for responsible pet ownership, including low cost spay/neuter programs, there is an even greater overall benefit to the local community and to the welfare of the dogs.

Preventing Rabies Outbreaks in Dogs

Ongoing vaccination programs are necessary to prevent the resurgence of rabies in dogs, but these preventative programs still cost less than treating human rabies cases. Given the positive impact on both human and animal welfare, Dr. Lembo’s proposed rabies vaccination programs for dogs in Africa and Asia would appear to have a good chance for reducing the incidence of rabies on those continents.

Resources:

WSAVA/FECAVA/BSAVA Congress. Eliminating rabies at its source. (2012). British Veterinary Association. Accessed May 3, 2012.

Tiziana, L., Attlan, M., Bourhy, H., et al. Renewed Global Partnerships and Redesigned Roadmaps for Rabies Prevention and Control. (2011). Veterinary Medicine International, vol. 2011. Article ID 923149, 18 pages.doi:10.4061/2011/923149. Accessed May 3, 2012.

Lembo, T., Hampson, K., Kaare, M.T., Ernest, E., Knobel, D., et al. The Feasibility of Canine Rabies Elimination in Africa: Dispelling Doubts with Data. (2010) PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 4(2): e626. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000626. Accessed May 3, 2012.

Rhodes, C.J., Atkinson, R.P., Anderson, R.M., Macdonald, D.W. Rabies in Zimbabwe: reservoir dogs and the implications for disease control. (1998). Royal Society B Biological  Sciences. 353(1371):999-1010. Accessed May 3, 2012.

Kayali, U., Mindekem, R., Ye´madji, N., Vounatsou, P., Kaninga, Y., et al. Coverage of pilot parenteral vaccination campaign against canine rabies in N’Djame´na, Chad. (2003). Bulletin of the World Health Organization 81: 739–744.

World Health Organization. Rabies Fact Sheet. Accessed May 3, 2012.

World Health Organization. Control of Rabies in Dogs. Accessed May 3, 2012.

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