Potential for Rabies Control through Dog Vaccination in Wildlife-Abundant Communities of Tanzania
Canine vaccination has been successful in controlling rabies in diverse settings worldwide. However, concerns remain that coverage levels which have previously been sufficient might be insufficient in systems where transmission occurs both between and within populations of domestic dogs and other carnivores. To evaluate the effectiveness of vaccination targeted at domestic dogs when wildlife also contributes to transmission, we applied a next-generation matrix model based on contract tracing data from the Ngorongoro and Serengeti Districts in northwest Tanzania. We calculated corresponding values of R0, and determined, for policy purposes, the probabilities that various annual vaccination targets would control the disease, taking into account the empirical uncertainty in our field data. We found that transition rate estimates and corresponding probabilities of vaccination-based control indicate that rabies transmission in this region is driven by transmission within domestic dogs. Different patterns of rabies transmission between the two districts exist, with wildlife playing a more important part in Ngorongoro and leading to higher recommended coverage levels in that district. Nonetheless, our findings indicate that an annual dog vaccination campaign achieving the WHO-recommended target of 70% will control rabies in both districts with a high level of certainty. Our results support the feasibility of controlling rabies in Tanzania through dog vaccination.