5.6.8 What do we need to do if fox-mediated rabies is re-introduced into an area after a period of absence?

Any re-introduction of fox rabies into a “rabies-free” area requires immediate action. The longer the response time, the greater the undesired effects. All stakeholders need to be informed, and an ad-hoc group should be established. Because the first detected rabies case might not necessarily be the index case, there is a high risk that the disease could have already spread undetected into the unprotected fox population.

Therefore, as a first measure for enhanced surveillance, it is essential to conduct risk-based sampling in a sufficiently large area around the detected rabies cases (see 5.2.1). Secondly, the public, and especially public health authorities and medical personnel should be informed about the resurgence of rabies and the measures to be implemented. Thirdly, emergency vaccination should be implemented regardless of the time of the year, taking into consideration (i) an adequate sized vaccination area (at least 40-50 km radius around the first detected rabies cases), (ii) adequate bait density, (iii) flight line distance, (iv) frequency of campaigns, and (v) complementary measures.

Depending on rabies surveillance, the vaccination areas should be enlarged for any forthcoming vaccination campaign. Multiple campaigns with short (six-week) intervals, or emergency vaccination between regular campaigns can be very successful (for examples, click here).

Vaccination of dogs and cats, also livestock if deemed necessary in the high risk area should be considered as a complementary measure, to avoid spillover to pets and livestock and reduce the risk of transmission to humans. Any people involved in biting incidents with wildlife should receive PEP.


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Version 1 - Last updated November 2012