Saturday, 7 April 2018

Feasibility of eliminating rabies in Africa

The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, together with European and African collaborators (including the Institut Pasteur in Paris), carried out a mass dog vaccination in Chad and determined its effect on human rabies exposure. The study employed a bio-mathematical method for estimating the transmission dynamics of rabies. The researchers conclude that with political will and the necessary funding, elimination of rabies is possible in Africa.

Rabies is a viral disease that kills tens of thousands of people every year, predominantly in Africa and Asia. The disease is transmitted through the bites of infected dogs and foxes (read the disease fact sheet concerning rabies). In West- and Central Europe, rabies was eliminated some 20 years ago. Switzerland was declared free of rabies in 1999 after implementing a strategy targeting foxes.

The study is one of the first research projects to apply a rigorous phylodynamic method to dog rabies, and hence, it expands upon the normative phylogenetics (i.e. assessing the genetic relatedness of virus strains) with the dynamics of transmission over time. This made it possible to calculate the reproductive number of rabies among the dogs after the first mass dog vaccination in 2012.


Jakob Zinsstag, Monique Lechenne, Mirjam Laager, Rolande Mindekem, Service Naïssengar, Assandi Oussiguéré, Kebkiba Bidjeh, Germain Rives, Julie Tessier, Seraphin Madjaninan, Mahamat Ouagal, Daugla D. Moto, Idriss O. Alfaroukh, Yvonne Muthiani, Abdallah Traoré, Jan Hattendorf, Anthony Lepelletier, Lauriane Kergoat, Hervé Bourhy, Laurent Dacheux, Tanja Stadler, Nakul Chitnis. Vaccination of dogs in an African city interrupts rabies transmission and reduces human exposureScience Translational Medicine, 2017; 9 (421): eaaf6984 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf6984

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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