Census and vaccination coverage of owned dog populations in four resource-limited rural communities, Mpumalanga province, South Africa

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 3
  • SDG 2
  • Abstract:

    Dogs (Canis familiaris) are often free-roaming in sub-Saharan African countries. Rabies virus circulates in many of these populations and presents a public health issue. Mass vaccination of dog populations is the recommended method to decrease the number of dog and human rabies cases. We describe and compare four populations of dogs and their vaccination coverage in four different villages (Hluvukani, Athol, Utah and Dixie) in Bushbuckridge Municipality, Mpumalanga province, South Africa. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in the villages of Athol, Utah and Dixie, while data from a Health and Demographic Surveillance System were used to describe the dog population in Hluvukani village. All households of the villages were visited to obtain information on the number, sex, age and rabies vaccination status of dogs. From May to October 2013, 2969 households were visited in the four villages and 942 owned dogs were reported. The populations were all young and skewed towards males. No differences were observed in the sex and age distributions (puppies 0–3 months excluded) among the villages. Athol had a higher proportion of dog-owning households than Hluvukani and Utah. Vaccination coverages were all above the 20% – 40% threshold required for herd immunity to rabies (38% in Hluvukani, 51% in Athol, 65% in Dixie and 74% in Utah). For the preparation of vaccination campaigns, we recommend the use of the relatively stable dog:human ratio (between 1:12 and 1:16) to estimate the number of dogs per village in Bushbuckridge Municipality.