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Utilising group-size and home-range characteristics of free-roaming dogs (FRD) to guide mass vaccination campaigns against rabies in India

Tiwari, H.K., Bruce, M.ORCID: 0000-0003-3176-2094, O’Dea, M.ORCID: 0000-0002-2757-7585 and Robertson, I.D.ORCID: 0000-0002-4255-4752 (2019) Utilising group-size and home-range characteristics of free-roaming dogs (FRD) to guide mass vaccination campaigns against rabies in India. Vaccines, 7 (4). Article 136.

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Adequate vaccination coverage of free roaming dogs (FRD) against canine rabies is not achieved primarily due to difficulties in administering parenteral vaccinations to this population. One factor associated with this difficulty is the tendency of FRD to form groups, which increases their aggressive behavior, resulting in a significant risk of dog-bites for the vaccinators. This study investigated factors that influenced FRD forming groups and their home-ranges, using data obtained from photographic capture-recapture/sight-resight surveys conducted in rural Shirsuphal (584 sightings) and urban Panchkula (3208 sightings), India. In the rural site, older dogs (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.2–0.9, p = 0.03) and FRD sighted within 20 m of garbage sites (OR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4–0.9, p = 0.02) were less likely to be in groups. The number of dogs sighted with an FRD decreased with increased resight-probability of that dog (β= –1.0, p < 0.001). The rural FRD with smaller home-ranges were more likely to be sighted alone (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.0–95, p = 0.04) than those with larger home-ranges. In the urban site, females (OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.1–1.5, p = 0.002) and older dogs (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.1, p = 0.07) were more likely to be found in groups, and groups of dogs were more likely to be seen within 20 meters of garbage sites (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.5–2.0, p < 0.001). The distribution of urban FRD sighted alone, in pairs, triads, and in packs of ≥4 dogs were not random in the administrative (p = 0.02), and the two industrial (p = 0.03 & 0.01) survey tracks of the urban site, implying stable groups. The resighting probability of a dog (β = 0.3, p < 0.0001) and presence of garbage within 20 m (β = 0.2, p < 0.0001) in the urban site increased the likelihood of sighting a FRD with other dogs. It is concluded that data on the resighting probability, presence of garbage points, and home-ranges can be utilised to guide the selection of parenteral or oral rabies vaccination to achieve a population vaccination coverage of 70% to break the transmission cycle of rabies virus in FRD in India.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: MDPI
Copyright: © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
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