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Vet. Sci. 2018, 5(3), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/vetsci5030077

Estimating the Size of Dog Populations in Tanzania to Inform Rabies Control

1
Ifakara Health Institute, P.O. Box 53, Ifakara, Tanzania
2
Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
3
Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 447, Arusha, Tanzania
4
Department of Epidemiology, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, P.O. Box 2870, Dodoma, Tanzania
Deceased.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 July 2018 / Revised: 31 August 2018 / Accepted: 3 September 2018 / Published: 7 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Canine Rabies Surveillance, Control and Elimination)
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Abstract

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. View Full-Text
Keywords: dog-mediated rabies; transects; dog ownership; mass dog vaccination dog-mediated rabies; transects; dog ownership; mass dog vaccination
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Sambo, M.; Hampson, K.; Changalucha, J.; Cleaveland, S.; Lembo, T.; Lushasi, K.; Mbunda, E.; Mtema, Z.; Sikana, L.; Johnson, P.C. Estimating the Size of Dog Populations in Tanzania to Inform Rabies Control. Vet. Sci. 2018, 5, 77.

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