Cost-effectiveness of dog rabies vaccination programs in East Africa.


Dog rabies vaccination programs can control, and potentially eliminate, dog rabies. The frequency and coverage of vaccination programs, along with the level of dog rabies transmission, can affect the cost-effectiveness of such programs. RabiesEcon can aid both the planning and assessment of dog rabies vaccination programs.

Dog rabies annually causes 24,000-70,000 deaths globally. We built a spreadsheet tool, RabiesEcon, to aid public health officials to estimate the cost-effectiveness of dog rabies vaccination programs in East Africa.

RabiesEcon uses a mathematical model of dog-dog and dog-human rabies transmission to estimate dog rabies cases averted, the cost per human rabies death averted and cost per year of life gained (YLG) due to dog vaccination programs (US 2015 dollars). We used an East African human population of 1 million (approximately 2/3 living in urban setting, 1/3 rural). We considered, using data from the literature, three vaccination options; no vaccination, annual vaccination of 50% of dogs and 20% of dogs vaccinated semi-annually. We assessed 2 transmission scenarios: low (1.2 dogs infected per infectious dog) and high (1.7 dogs infected). We also examined the impact of annually vaccinating 70% of all dogs (World Health Organization recommendation for dog rabies elimination).

Without dog vaccination, over 10 years there would a total of be approximately 44,000-65,000 rabid dogs and 2,100-2,900 human deaths. Annually vaccinating 50% of dogs results in 10-year reductions of 97% and 75% in rabid dogs (low and high transmissions scenarios, respectively), approximately 2,000-1,600 human deaths averted, and an undiscounted cost-effectiveness of $451-$385 per life saved. Semi-annual vaccination of 20% of dogs results in in 10-year reductions of 94% and 78% in rabid dogs, and approximately 2,000-1,900 human deaths averted, and cost $404-$305 per life saved. In the low transmission scenario, vaccinating either 50% or 70% of dogs eliminated dog rabies. Results were most sensitive to dog birth rate and the initial rate of dog-to-dog transmission (Ro).

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