5.2.3 How do I distinguish between rabies-free and rabies-infected regions?

Fox-mediated rabies may not necessarily be endemic in all regions where foxes are abundant (see Scandinavia, Southern Balkans, the Iberian Peninsula). Therefore, for a successful, cost-effective fox rabies control programme, a clear distinction should be made between rabies-free regions and rabies-infected regions prior to initiating an ORV campaign. It should be noted that a single rabies case in a fox is only likely to represent the tip of the iceberg (not the index case), and there are likely to be many more undetected cases. It is also important to note that there may be no clear boundaries between rabies-infected and rabies-free regions, this means that a buffer zone for ORV should always be considered.

To identify and define rabies-free areas, notification of rabies and continuous adequate surveillance (see 5.2.1) are essential. Surveillance data need to be thoroughly assessed with the geo-referenced baseline/denominator data, using GIS software at the lowest possible administrative or geographical level considering the rabies situation in adjacent, non-vaccinated regions, as well as topographical features. According to international standards, an area can be considered free from fox-mediated rabies if no indigenously-acquired rabies case has been confirmed, either in humans or animals, for at least the past 2 years, provided adequate surveillance is in place.


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Version 1 - Last updated November 2012