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Surveillance of Human Rabies by National Authorities—A Global Survey

L H Taylor, L Knopf
Zoonoses and Public Health 2015, 62 (7): 543-52
Effective prevention of deaths due to human rabies is currently hampered by a lack of understanding of the scale of the problem, and the distribution of both animal and human cases across countries, regions and continents. Unfortunately, despite the severity of the disease, accurate data on which to assess these questions and to prioritize and direct public health interventions are not available for many parts of the world. This survey sought to understand the current global situation regarding the surveillance of human rabies. Data were collected from 91 countries across all continents and all categories of human rabies risk, generating the most complete and representative global data set currently available. Respondents were asked key questions about whether human rabies was a notifiable disease, how the surveillance system for human rabies operated and whether the respondent considered that the surveillance system was working effectively. Across the 91 countries from which data were collated, human rabies was a notifiable disease in all but eight. Despite international guidance, surveillance systems were very varied. Even where rabies is a notifiable disease, many countries had surveillance system judged to be ineffective, almost all of these being high and moderate rabies risk countries in Africa and Asia. Overall, 41% of the population covered by this survey (around 2.5 billion people) live in countries where there is no or ineffective rabies surveillance. The lack of robust surveillance is hindering rabies control efforts. However, whilst worldwide rabies surveillance would be improved if rabies were notifiable in all countries, many other challenges to the implementation of effective global human rabies surveillance systems remain.


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