Rabies can be controlled and human deaths reduced through the mass vaccination of domestic dogs, as recorded in some parts of the world. However, in sub-Saharan Africa rabies infection is on the increase, largely due to the population dynamics that favour disease transmission. The demographics of the dog population in this study area are unknown. This study describes the demography of owned dogs in a rural sub-Saharan African setting. The study took place in Hluvukani, in the Mnisi area of Bushbuckridge Local Municipality, Mpumalanga Province in South Africa. A full census of the dog population in the study area was conducted at two time points. The first census took place from July through October 2011, followed by a second census from May through October 2013. The first census was accompanied by a house-to-house rabies vaccination campaign.
The demographic surveillance area covered 10.4 km2 and comprised around 2,000 households, with a mean household size of 4.9, a density of 913 people/km2 and a human:dog ratio of 14:1. Results in the first and second census respectively indicated a dog density of 77 dogs/km2 and 84 dogs/km2, and a sex ratio of 1.32 and 1.47 males per female. Household indicators in the first and second censuses respectively showed the number of households as 1,907 and 1,939; and the number of dogs as 799 and 870. The mean number of dogs per household (standard deviation) was 0.41 (1.08) and 0.44 (1.16) and the number of dog-owning households was 393 (20.6%) and 416 (21.5%). The mean number of dogs per dog owning household (standard deviation) was 2.03 (1.56) and 2.09 (1.71). Vaccination coverage against rabies achieved by the campaign during the first census was 68.2% (545/799). Vaccination coverage at the time of the second census was 59% (513/870).
Mini-dissertation (MSc)--University of Pretoria, 2015.