Associate Professor of Epidemiology
University of Pennsylvania
In the Peruvian city of Arequipa, rabid dogs have been detected since March 2015, signaling the reintroduction of the rabies virus (RV) in this previously officially-declared rabies free zone. High dog density is considered one of the causes for the continuous transmission of the RV in the outbreak in the city of Arequipa, which seemingly lends support to the culling of dogs as a public health measure. However, the effectiveness of culling free-roaming dogs to control urban rabies has not been evaluated. Objective to determine the effectiveness of free-roaming dog culling as a control measure of urban rabies.
We searched for articles on dog rabies control or urban rabies control in the databases of PubMed, Scopus and LILACS. The characteristics and results of the documents obtained were recorded. Eligibility criteria: We included original studies and reviews that have evaluated an effect of culling dogs in the transmission of RV. Data collection and evaluation: One of the authors (RCN) screened the articles found in the search based on their titles and abstracts. The data and results of the articles selected for full reading were evaluated by at least two authors.
21 articles were eligible for full reading. 20 of 21 articles conclude that free-roaming dog culling is ineffective in reducing the transmission of RV and may even have unintended consequences that worsen the problem. We believe that the available evidence indicates that the sacrifice of free-roaming dogs is not effective to control urban rabies. In addition, the various negative consequences of free-roaming dog culling reported in other parts of the world suggest that the system of urban rabies is highly complex and all its components must be taken into account during the implementation of control activities.