Maganga Sambo, Emmanual Mpolya, and Riana Arief have all got their papers out in this latest special issue, which provides a global perspective on current issues for reaching the 2030 target for the global elimination of dog-mediated rabies.
Maganga’s work provides useful insight into the pros and cons of different approaches used to measure vaccination coverage in dogs. His key finding is that post-vaccination transects to count vaccinated (collared) dogs provide a rapid and relatively cheap way of quickly assessing coverage than most sampling-based survey methods which quickly become based and inaccurate if there is a lot of variation in dog ownership. But, transects generally overestimate coverage (by 10-20%) because puppies and juveniles are often missed during transects and these animals tend to not be vaccinated, so coverage estimates need to be adjusted accordingly.
Emmanuel describes the progress made during the course of a large-scale rabies elimination demonstration project in Southeast Tanzania. Although the project encountered some challenges to progress, overall the rabies situation looks very promising with many districts showing major improvements in demand for post-exposure vaccines. Critically the project demonstrated that with experience local government teams are able to considerably improve the implementation of mass dog vaccination campaigns to achieve levels of coverage that are needed for elimination.
Riana reports the determinants of vaccination coverage in a very different setting, the island Province of Bali in Indonesia. She also used mark recapture methods to investigate levels of vaccination coverage achieved during campaigns. She found that coverage was generally high and sufficient to achieve elimination of disease if continued. However, rural and suburban areas tended to have lowest coverage and young puppies were the animals least likely to be vaccinated. A continued challenge is the need for long-lasting, cheap, and quick methods to mark vaccinated animals and reassure communities of the reach of vaccination campaigns long after the campaign is completed.
There are lots of other really useful articles in the issue including summaries of the challenges to achieving continent-wide elimination as encountered in Latin America, estimates of the vaccine needs for scaling up the global campaign and a policy perspective on how to progress further faster. The special topic is well worth a read!