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Evaluating the role of surgical sterilisation in canine rabies control: A systematic review of impact and outcomes

Collinson, Abi; Bennett, Malcolm; Brennan, Marnie L; Dean, Rachel; Stavisky, Jenny

Evaluating the role of surgical sterilisation in canine rabies control: A systematic review of impact and outcomes Thumbnail


Abi Collinson

Rachel Dean

Jenny Stavisky


© 2020 Collinson et al. Current recommendations for the elimination of canine-mediated human rabies focus on mass dog vaccination as the most feasible and cost-effective strategy. However, attempts to control rabies are often combined with canine surgical sterilisation programmes. The added value of sterilisation is widely debated. A systematic review was undertaken to compare the outcomes and impact of vaccination and sterilisation programmes with vaccination only programmes. A systematic search of three electronic databases (CAB Abstracts, Med-line and Global Health) and grey literature was performed. From 8696 abstracts found, 5554 unique studies were identified, and 16 studies met the inclusion criteria. Eight described vaccination only programmes and eight described vaccination and sterilisation programmes. Indicators of impact measured were dog bites and/or doses of post-exposure prophylaxis administered; numbers of dog and/or human rabies cases; dog population demographic changes; changes in health and welfare of dogs, and indicators related to human behaviour change. The studies were contextually very diverse, programmes being implemented were complex, and there was variation in measurement and reporting of key indicators. There-fore, it was difficult to compare the two types of intervention, and impossible to make an evaluation of the role of sterilisation, using this evidence. Given the large number of vaccination and sterilisation programmes conducted globally, the lack of studies available for review highlights a gap in data collection or reporting, essential for impact assessment. There are several knowledge gaps concerning the impact of the sterilisation component alone, as well as subsequent effects on rabies transmission and control. Prospective studies comparing the outcomes and impact of the two interventions would be required in order to establish any additional contribution of sterilisation, as well as the underlying mechanisms driving any changes. In the absence of such evidence, the priority for rabies control objectives should be implementation of mass vaccination, as currently recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 18, 2020
Online Publication Date Aug 26, 2020
Publication Date Aug 1, 2020
Deposit Date Sep 23, 2020
Publicly Available Date Sep 23, 2020
Journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Electronic ISSN 1935-2735
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 8
Article Number e0008497
Public URL
Publisher URL


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