Modelling targeted rabies vaccination strategies for a domestic dog population with heterogeneous roaming patterns

Emily Hudson, Victoria Brookes, Salome Durr, Michael P. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Australia is currently canine rabies free. However, communities located on the northern coastline–such as the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA), Queensland–are at risk of an incursion due to their large populations of susceptible free-roaming dogs and proximity to rabies-infected Indonesian islands. A rabies-spread model was used to simulate potential outbreaks and evaluate various disease control strategies. A heterogeneous contact structure previously described in the population of interest–explorer dogs, roamer dogs and stay-at-home dogs–was incorporated into the model using six spatial kernels describing contacts between dog roaming categories. Twenty-seven vaccination strategies were investigated based on a complete block design of 50%, 70% and 90% coverage for each of the three roaming categories to simulate various targeted vaccination strategies. The 27 strategies were implemented in four population structures in which the proportion of dogs in each category varied–explorer dominant, roamer dominant, stay-at-home dominant and a field population (based on field estimates of population structure). The overall vaccination coverage varied depending on the subpopulation targeted for vaccination and the population structure modelled. A total of 108 scenarios were simulated 2000 times and the model outputs (outbreak size and duration) were compared to Strategy 14 (a standard recommended overall 70% vaccination coverage). In general, targeting explorer dogs–and to a lesser extent roamer dogs–produced similar outbreaks to Strategy 14 but with a lower overall vaccination coverage. Similarly, strategies that targeted stay-at-home dogs required a higher vaccination coverage to produce significantly smaller and shorter outbreaks. This study provides some theoretical evidence that targeting subpopulations of dogs for vaccination based on their roaming behaviours (and therefore risk of rabies transmission) could be more efficient than blanket 70% vaccination campaigns. Such information can be used in preparedness planning to help improve control of a potential rabies incursion in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0007582
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 08 Jul 2019

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