Canine rabies vaccination and domestic dog population characteristics in the developing world: a systematic review

Vaccine. 2012 May 21;30(24):3492-502. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.03.069. Epub 2012 Apr 3.


Background: Human rabies remains a significant problem in many developing countries, where canine rabies is the most common means of transmission. Although vaccination of dogs has been shown to be the most effective method of prevention in humans, dog vaccination is often lacking.

Methods: This systematic review examined dog rabies vaccination coverage achieved following mass vaccination campaigns and dog ecology/management factors relevant to rabies control in the developing world. We searched a variety of electronic databases for published articles pertaining to dog rabies vaccination or dog ecology where data were collected utilizing a household cluster survey. We reviewed studies published between January 1, 1980 and present and identified 29 articles for inclusion.

Results: We found the majority of vaccination campaigns were able to achieve the WHO recommended vaccination coverage of ≥ 70% and calculated weighted mean post-campaign vaccination coverage of 76.5% in urban areas and 73.7% in rural areas. However, we found an absence of studies related to dog vaccination/dog ecology from countries with the greatest burden of rabies such as India, China, and Pakistan. In addition, the majority of dogs in the developing world are very young and short-lived, reducing the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns.

Conclusions: Future studies on canine ecology should be undertaken in countries with high endemic canine rabies. New methods for improving the longevity of dogs and reducing high dog population turnover need to be investigated. Programs which encourage good dog management and promote responsible pet ownership are essential to eliminating canine and human rabies.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • China / epidemiology
  • Developing Countries
  • Dog Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Dog Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dogs
  • Endemic Diseases
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Pakistan / epidemiology
  • Rabies / epidemiology
  • Rabies / prevention & control
  • Rabies / veterinary*
  • Rabies Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Vaccination / methods*
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data


  • Rabies Vaccines