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Keywords:

  • Dog;
  • epidemiology;
  • human;
  • rabies;
  • Zambia

Summary

Rabies has been present in Zambia since the early years of the 20th century. It is a significant public health problem in Zambia. Domestic dogs accounted for 69.7% (1348/1935) of the samples received for rabies diagnosis for the period 1985–2004. Of the 1069 positive cases confirmed by the fluorescent antibody test, 747 (69.9%) were from domestic dogs, 139 (13.0%) from cattle and 98 (9.2%) from humans. Wildlife samples accounted for 4.5% (87/1935) of the samples tested with the jackal (Canis adustus) being the predominant species. Cases of rabies were highest in Lusaka Province followed by the Copperbelt, Southern and Central Provinces. The monthly distribution of canine rabies showed an average of 2.93 (95% CI 2.59–3.29) dog positive cases per month. The study confirms that rabies is endemic in Zambia and that the domestic dog is the principal maintenance host. The epidemiology and control measures currently used in Zambia are herein discussed highlighting their limitations and successes. Based on the findings obtained from this study we advocate for strengthening the delivery of public health services and that steps must taken to reduce the incidence of rabies in Zambia.