Rabies Transmission Within Wild Dog Populations In Northern Australia

Salome Durr, Stefano Marelli, Victoria Brookes, Michael P. Ward, Beatriz Vidondo

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePoster


Australia’s canine-rabies free environment is threatened by the current spread of the disease across the Indonesian archipelago, which has brought rabies 300 km from northern Australia. Remote Indigenous communities in northern Australia are situated within complex ecosystems containing large populations of free-roaming domestic dogs. Such communities are surrounded by widely dispersed wild dog populations. Therefore, the incursion of rabies into northern Australia, via or with spillover to wild dogs, is a genuine threat. The goal of this project is to evaluate strategies for controlling the spread of rabies in wild dog populations in northern Australia, should an incursion occur. The distribution and density of wild dogs across the study area, as well as the extent of interactions between wild and domestic dogs, is currently being evaluated using a range of field approaches, includingcamera traps placed at strategic locations and interviews with local residents who use community dogs for feral-pig hunting activities. Based on this data, a stochastic model of rabies spread in wild dogs will be developedand tested using different control scenarios. For the first nine months of the one-year camera trap study, 986502 photographs were captured from 28 cameras deployed for 5940 camera trap nights along trails and at focal points. Dogs were active at all sites and visualized in 2.9% of the photographs; of these, 56.2% showed dingo phenotypic characteristics. Dingo-like dogs were predominantly recorded during nocturnal hours. Results from interviews with hunters suggest that wild dogs tend not to approach domestic dogs during hunting trips. Areas reported by hunters as having a high dingo density are consistent with dingo-like dog sightings from the camera traps. The decision-support system developed in this project will help prepare for a rabies incursion impacting Indigenous communities, wildlife populations and the ecosystem in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Event66th Wildlife Disease Association International Conference - Casa Mazariegos, Chiapas, Mexico
Duration: 23 Jul 201728 Jul 2017


Conference66th Wildlife Disease Association International Conference
Internet address


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