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Risk factors associated with nonvaccination rabies status of dogs in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Authors Hergert M, LeRoux K, Nel L

Received 8 January 2016

Accepted for publication 27 February 2016

Published 27 June 2016 Volume 2016:7 Pages 75—83


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Young Lyoo

Melinda Hergert,1 Kevin le Roux,2 Louis H Nel3,4

1Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, Pretoria, 2KwaZulu-Natal Department of Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Government Veterinary Services, Pietermaritzburg, 3Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; 4Global Alliance for Rabies Control, Manhattan, KS, USA

Abstract: Canine rabies has been enzootic in the dog population of the KwaZulu-Natal ­province of South Africa since the mid-1970s and has been associated with high rates of human exposures and frequent transmissions to other domestic animal species. Several decades of control efforts, consisting primarily of mass vaccination programs, failed to sufficiently curb rabies in this province. For meaningful progression toward better control and elimination, the factors contributing to the persistence of this disease need to be elucidated and addressed. This paper reports evaluated observations from survey records captured through a cross-sectional observational study regarding owned canine populations in this South African province. We used logistic regression modeling to predict variables associated with risk of nonvaccination of rabies in owned dogs. The study indicated that husbandry practices, rabies knowledge, geographical area/location, and the ages of dogs were important factors associated with the risk of nonvaccination. High population turnover, together with large free roaming dog populations, compromised the levels of vaccination achieved and contributed to the persistence of dog rabies in the province. Dog owners in this study also reported that they were more likely to present their dogs for vaccination when the vaccines were free of charge (52%) and less than a kilometer from their homes (91%). It has been suggested that effective dog rabies control requires 70% or more of the dog population to be vaccinated. Our data showed that this figure was not reached in the surveyed dog population.

Keywords: dog population, canine rabies, rabies vaccination, vaccination campaigns, ­KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, dog owners

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