5.2.2 Why is epidemiological surveillance important, and how can it be enhanced?

Rabies surveillance is the basis for any fox rabies control programme, as the systematic collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of rabies data is essential for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of ORV campaigns. Making rabies a notifiable disease is therefore a prerequisite for the establishment of adequate rabies surveillance. There are several opportunities how to enhance rabies surveillance:

• Perpetuation of a strong political will and financial support by the government is utmost importance.
• Permanent awareness raising in the general public through well-established communication channels (see chapter 4). In an emergency or in a situation of assumed risk awareness needs to be increased both a national and local level.
• Although rabies surveillance aims to target the reservoir species as a priority, e.g. the red fox, any other susceptible animal species should be included in rabies surveillance activities (spillover infections). Sometimes, exceptionally high numbers of rabid cattle can be a good indicator of the existence of fox-mediated rabies (see this example from Turkey).
• Reporting human rabies cases and the number of PEPs in a given area can often provide important additional information on the spread of the disease in the area.


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Version 1 - Last updated November 2012