Investigation of the temporal roaming behaviour of free-roaming domestic dogs in Indigenous communities in northern Australia to inform rabies incursion preparedness

Elizabeth K. Maher, Michael P. Ward, Victoria Brookes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Australia is canine rabies free but free-roaming, domestic dog populations in remote northern communities are at risk of an incursion due to proximity to rabies-endemic south-east Asia. Unrestricted contact between dogs could facilitate rabies spread following an incursion, and increase the impact on both dogs and people. Whilst dog vaccination is the foundation of rabies prevention, control strategies could be enhanced by understanding the temporal pattern of roaming and associated risk factors, so that movement restrictions can be targeted. Global positioning system datasets from 132 dogs in eight Indigenous communities in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) of Australia were analysed using regression methods. The influence of risk factors (including age, sex, location, season and hour of day) on dogs’ distance from their residences were assessed. Dogs roamed furthest in the NPA and during the dry season. Daily peaks in mean roaming distance were observed at 1000–1100 hrs and 1700–1800 hrs in the Torres Strait, and 1700–1800 hrs in the NPA. These findings demonstrate that understanding community-specific temporal roaming patterns can inform targeted movement restrictions during an outbreak of rabies in remote communities in northern Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14893
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2019

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