Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers

Inferior rabies vaccine quality and low immunization coverage in dogs (Canis familiaris) in China

R. L. HUa1 c1, A. R. FOOKSa2, S. F. ZHANGa1, Y. LIUa1 and F. ZHANGa1

a1 Laboratory of Epidemiology, Veterinary Institute, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Changchun, China

a2 Rabies and Wildlife Zoonoses Group, WHO Collaborating Centre for the Characterisation of Rabies and Rabies-Related Viruses, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Weybridge, Addlestone, UK

SUMMARY

Human rabies in China continues to increase exponentially, largely due to an inadequate veterinary infrastructure and poor vaccine coverage of naive dogs. We performed an epidemiological survey of rabies both in humans and animals, examined vaccine quality for animal use, evaluated the vaccination coverage in dogs, and checked the dog samples for the presence of rabies virus. The lack of surveillance in dog rabies, together with the low immunization coverage (up to 2·8% in rural areas) and the high percentage of rabies virus prevalence (up to 6·4%) in dogs, suggests that the dog population is a continual threat for rabies transmission from dogs to humans in China. Results also indicated that the quality of rabies vaccines for animal use did not satisfy all of the requirements for an efficacious vaccine capable of fully eliminating rabies. These data suggest that the factors noted above are highly correlated with the high incidence of human rabies in China.

(Accepted November 14 2007)

(Online publication January 04 2008)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Dr Rongliang Hu, Laboratory of Epidemiology, Veterinary Institute, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, 1068 Qinglong Road, Changchun 130062, China. (Email: hurongliang@hotmail.com)

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