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Assessing the Risk of a Canine Rabies Incursion in Northern Australia

By Emily G. Hudson, Victoria J. Brookes, Michael P. Ward

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Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Rabies is a globally distributed virus that causes approximately 60,00 human deaths annually with >99% of cases caused by dog bites. Australia is currently canine rabies free. However, the recent eastward spread of rabies in the Indonesian archipelago has increased the probability of rabies entry into northern Australian communities. In addition, many northern Australian communities have large populations of free-roaming dogs, capable of maintaining rabies should an incursion occur. A risk assessment of rabies entry and transmission into these communities is needed to target control and surveillance measures. Illegal transportation of rabies-infected dogs via boat landings is a high-risk entry pathway and was the focus of the current study. A quantitative, stochastic, risk assessment model was developed to evaluate the risk of rabies entry into north-west Cape York Peninsula, Australia, and rabies introduction to resident dogs in one of the communities via transport of rabies-infected dogs on illegal Indonesian fishing boats. Parameter distributions were derived from expert opinion, literature, and analysis of field studies. The estimated median probability of rabies entry into north-west Cape York Peninsula and into Seisia from individual fishing boats was 1.9 × 10−4/boat and 8.7 × 10−6/boat, respectively. The estimated annual probability that at least one rabies-infected dog enters north-west Cape York Peninsula and into Seisia was 5.5 × 10−3 and 3.5 × 10−4, respectively. The estimated median probability of rabies introduction into Seisia was 4.7 × 10−8/boat, and the estimated annual probability that at least one rabies-infected dog causes rabies transmission in a resident Seisia dog was 8.3 × 10−5. Sensitivity analysis using the Sobol method highlighted some parameters as influential, including but not limited to the prevalence of rabies in Indonesia, the probability of a dog on board an Indonesian fishing boat, and the probability of a Seisia dog being on the beach. Overall, the probabilities of rabies entry into north-west Cape York Peninsula and rabies introduction into Seisia are low. However, the potential devastating consequences of a rabies incursion in this region make this a non-negligible risk.

Submitter

Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2017
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 4
Issue 141
Publisher Frontiers
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2017.00141
URL https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2017.00141
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animals in culture
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Australia
  6. Dogs
  7. Health
  8. Mammals
  9. Pet ownership
  10. Pets and companion animals
  11. Physical environment
  12. Rabies
  13. risk
  14. Social Environments
  15. surveillance
  16. Veterinary medicine