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Using the Demographics of Dog Populations to Prevent Rabies

Rabies prevention and treatment in humans is costly, and the necessary resources are often scarce or inadequate, which leads to an inappropriate focus on dog culling in many countries. Rabies can be controlled, and in certain instances eradicated, by the mass vaccination of dogs against the virus. Demonstrating the effectiveness of this approach to authorities in developing countries where rabies is a problem is important to improve the uptake of dog vaccination and to discourage culling. Understanding the demographics of dog populations (in particular, rates of birth, death, and in- and out-migration) is essential in planning and implementing effective canine rabies vaccination campaigns. However, little is known about the dynamics of dog populations in developing countries, including those in sub-Saharan Africa, where canine rabies is endemic. The researcher will establish a health and Demographic Surveillance System for Dogs in a rabies-infected area in South Africa and will use that system to better understand the demographics of the dog population. The aim is not only to improve rabies control through dog vaccination but also to create a platform that will be used to accurately measure rates of other diseases in the dog population, to identify determinants of dog health and welfare, and to rigorously assess interventions aimed at improving health and welfare.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Darryn Knobel, University of Pretoria, South Africa, First Award Grant

Co-sponsors: Anonymous

Study ID: D12CA-312