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Difficulties in estimating the human burden of canine rabies

L. H. Taylor, K. Hampson, A. Fahrion, B. Abela-Ridder, L. H. Nel

CURRENT passive surveillance data for canine rabies, particularly for the regions where the burden is highest, are inadequate for appropriate decision making on control efforts. This study aimed to evaluate potential sources of information on the number of human deaths attributable to canine rabies and suggest ways to improve the estimates required to achieve global elimination of canine rabies.

The authors found that current passive surveillance data is incomplete and of limited value in assessing the burden of canine rabies in many countries where it is endemic. At present, the most complete datasets are those where canine rabies has been eliminated or is close to elimination (Europe and the Americas), but the major canine rabies endemic areas have very poor reporting (Africa and Asia). In the few areas where active surveillance has been carried out, passive data collection for the same areas demonstrated dramatic under-reporting.

The authors conclude that, in the short term, until the quality of passive surveillance systems across Asia and Africa improves, grounding modelled estimates with active surveillance data, even if only available for …

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