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Prev Vet Med. 2000 Mar 29;44(1-2):73-85.

Community-based active surveillance for rabies in Machakos District, Kenya.

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Department of Public Health, Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Nairobi, PO Box 29053, Nairobi, Kenya.


The rabies problem in Kenya has been greatest in Machakos District where the disease has persisted endemically for over 40 years. This paper presents the results of a one-year community-based active surveillance for rabies in six randomly selected sublocations in the district for the period 1992-1993. Approximately 860 rabid dogs per 100000 dogs were confirmed in this study, compared to approximately 12 per 100000 confirmed rabid dogs reported by the existing passive-surveillance system. This active surveillance underestimated the true rabies incidence, because only 41% (130/317) of the potential specimens could be diagnosed. Dogs accounted for 92% (179/194) of primary animal-rabies suspects, 80% (66/83) of secondary suspects, and 81% of the confirmed animal-rabies cases. The annual incidence of animal-bites of humans was 234 per 100000 people and the point estimate of human-rabies incidence per year was 25 per million people. Almost all (97%) animal-bites of humans were due to dogs.The traditional passive-surveillance system grossly underestimated the importance of rabies as a public-health problem in Machakos District. Community-based active surveillance provides a potential cost-effective strategy for greatly improving estimates of rabies incidence and epidemiology to inform veterinary and policy decision-making.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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