Evidence-based control of canine rabies: a critical review of population density reduction

Morters, M.K., Restif, O., Hampson, K. , Cleaveland, S. , Wood, J.L.N., Conlan, A.J.K. and Boots, M. (2013) Evidence-based control of canine rabies: a critical review of population density reduction. Journal of Animal Ecology, 82(1), pp. 6-14. (doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2012.02033.x)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2012.02033.x

Abstract

Control measures for canine rabies include vaccination and reducing population density through culling or sterilization. Despite the evidence that culling fails to control canine rabies, efforts to reduce canine population density continue in many parts of the world. The rationale for reducing population density is that rabies transmission is density-dependent, with disease incidence increasing directly with host density. This may be based, in part, on an incomplete interpretation of historical field data for wildlife, with important implications for disease control in dog populations. Here, we examine historical and more recent field data, in the context of host ecology and epidemic theory, to understand better the role of density in rabies transmission and the reasons why culling fails to control rabies. We conclude that the relationship between host density, disease incidence and other factors is complex and may differ between species. This highlights the difficulties of interpreting field data and the constraints of extrapolations between species, particularly in terms of control policies. We also propose that the complex interactions between dogs and people may render culling of free-roaming dogs ineffective irrespective of the relationship between host density and disease incidence. We conclude that vaccination is the most effective means to control rabies in all species.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cleaveland, Professor Sarah and Hampson, Dr Katie
Authors: Morters, M.K., Restif, O., Hampson, K., Cleaveland, S., Wood, J.L.N., Conlan, A.J.K., and Boots, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Journal of Animal Ecology
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
ISSN:0021-8790
ISSN (Online):1365-2656
Published Online:24 September 2012
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Animal Ecology 82(1):6-14
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
508041Understanding how a complex intervention works: designing large-scale vaccination programsDaniel HaydonMedical Research Council (MRC)G0901135/91914RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED