Rabies is a fatal disease that has been a serious health concern, especially in developing countries. Although rabies is preventable by vaccination, the spread still occurs sporadically in many countries, including Thailand. Geographical structures, habitats, and behaviors of host populations are essential factors that may result in an enormous impact on the mechanism of propagation and persistence of the disease. To investigate the role of geographical structures on the transmission dynamics of canine rabies, we developed a stochastic individual-based model that integrates the exact configuration of buildings and roads. In our model, the spatial distribution of dogs was estimated based on the distribution of buildings, with roads considered to facilitate dog movement. Two contrasting areas with high- and low-risk of rabies transmission in Thailand, namely, Hatyai and Tepha districts, were chosen as study sites. Our modeling results indicated that the distinct geographical structures of buildings and roads in Hatyai and Tepha could contribute to the difference in the rabies transmission dynamics in these two areas. The high density of buildings and roads in Hatyai could facilitate more rabies transmission. We also investigated the impacts of rabies intervention, including reducing the dog population, restricting owned dog movement, and dog vaccination on the spread of canine rabies in these two areas. We found that reducing the dog population alone might not be sufficient for preventing rabies transmission in the high-risk area. Owned dog confinement could reduce more the likelihood of rabies transmission. Finally, a higher vaccination coverage may be required for controlling rabies transmission in the high-risk area compared to the low-risk area.
PLoS neglected tropical diseases
Biophysics Group, Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.
Animals, Dogs, Humans, Rabies, Dog Diseases, Rabies Vaccines, Vaccination, Geography, Vaccination Coverage