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Free-roaming dogs

In Asia and Africa, the presence of free-roaming dogs inaccessible for vaccination by the parenteral route forms a serious obstacle for programmes to eradicate human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030.

Mass vaccination of dogs is an extremely efficient and cost-effective method of rabies elimination. To reach herd immunity (where the disease transmission between dogs can be interrupted), disease models and experience show that sustained vaccination coverage of 70% of dog populations is required. However, vaccination by the parenteral route alone is often not sufficient to reach 70% coverage levels, where for example there is a high proportion of free-roaming dogs or ownderless dogs that cannot be readily handled for parenteral vaccination. It is important to bear in mind that these free-roaming dogs play a key role in the transmission of rabies among other dogs. 

How big is the problem and what is the solution?

The global burden of rabies is estimated at $8.6bn per annum *

Each year 59,000 people die from rabies *

Mass vaccination of dogs is the key to the success of the Zero by 30 campaign

The use of vaccine baits has been shown to be successful in reaching these dogs inaccessible for parenteral vaccination and so allow programmes to reach in excess of the 70% coverage to achieve herd immunity over time.

The three key components for an oral vaccination of dogs against rabies are the key attributes of vaccine, bait and distribution system. Unlike programmes in the wild (such as in Europe), mass distribution of baits from the air is not possible. Instead of air distribution, targeted hand distribution programmes have been introduced with success, with the objective of increasing coverage and thus herd immunity.

Oral vaccination of dogs

Feel free to read or download important papers as PDF.


General description

Proof of principle

Bait acceptance

Bait acceptance

Cost effectiveness

* = Zero by 30: the global strategic plan to end human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030. World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), 2018