Estimating the size of dog populations in Tanzania to inform rabies control

Sambo, M., Hampson, K. , Changalucha, J., Cleaveland, S. , Lembo, T. , Lushasi, K., Mbunda, E., Mtema, Z., Sikana, L. and Johnson, P. C.D. (2018) Estimating the size of dog populations in Tanzania to inform rabies control. Veterinary Sciences, 5(3), 77. (doi: 10.3390/vetsci5030077) (PMID:30205470) (PMCID:PMC6164483)

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Estimates of dog population sizes are a prerequisite for delivering effective canine rabies control. However, dog population sizes are generally unknown in most rabies-endemic areas. Several approaches have been used to estimate dog populations but without rigorous evaluation. We compare post-vaccination transects, household surveys, and school-based surveys to determine which most precisely estimates dog population sizes. These methods were implemented across 28 districts in southeast Tanzania, in conjunction with mass dog vaccinations, covering a range of settings, livelihoods, and religious backgrounds. Transects were the most precise method, revealing highly variable patterns of dog ownership, with human/dog ratios ranging from 12.4:1 to 181.3:1 across districts. Both household and school-based surveys generated imprecise and, sometimes, inaccurate estimates, due to small sample sizes in relation to the heterogeneity in patterns of dog ownership. Transect data were subsequently used to develop a predictive model for estimating dog populations in districts lacking transect data. We predicted a dog population of 2,316,000 (95% CI 1,573,000–3,122,000) in Tanzania and an average human/dog ratio of 20.7:1. Our modelling approach has the potential to be applied to predicting dog population sizes in other areas where mass dog vaccinations are planned, given census and livelihood data. Furthermore, we recommend post-vaccination transects as a rapid and effective method to refine dog population estimates across large geographic areas and to guide dog vaccination programmes in settings with mostly free roaming dog populations.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sikana, Mr Lwitiko and Lembo, Dr Tiziana and Sambo, Dr Maganga and Johnson, Dr Paul and Cleaveland, Professor Sarah and Lushasi, Mr Kennedy and Hampson, Professor Katie
Authors: Sambo, M., Hampson, K., Changalucha, J., Cleaveland, S., Lembo, T., Lushasi, K., Mbunda, E., Mtema, Z., Sikana, L., and Johnson, P. C.D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Veterinary Sciences
ISSN (Online):2306-7381
Published Online:07 September 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Veterinary Sciences 5(3): 77
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
569043Hierarchical epidemiology: the spread and persistence of infectious diseases in complex landscapesKatie HampsonWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)095787/Z/11/ZRI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED
3016200The Science of Rabies EliminationKatie HampsonWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)207569/Z/17/ZInstitute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine