Animal and Human Rabies in Azerbaijan, 2003- 2010

Background: Rabies is the fifth most economically costly infectious disease (WHO). It has a near 100% mortality in humans and in all warm-blooded animals. In Azerbaijan, rabies is widespread and the Republican Veterinary Laboratory (RVL) is the only facility testing for this disease. We examined data from 2003 to 2010 and made recommendations for rabies control.

Methods: We analyzed data on laboratory samples, animal bites, rabies cases and vaccination from the Ministry of Health and the RVL for 2003-2010. We interviewed heads of regional veterinary laboratories and employees of the “Ownerless Animals Capture Service” about housing and capture of ownerless animals.

Results: For the period 2003-2010, 253 samples were accepted by RVL, of these, 229 (92%) were tested. The number tested has increased from 19 in 2003, to 52 in 2010. In 2003, 14 samples were positive whereas in 2010 the number was 33. Most samples (151) were from domestic animals including 89 dogs, 42 cattle, and 20 from other types of animals. Twenty one samples (10%) were spoiled and unacceptable for testing. Animal vaccination numbers were 103,190 in 2003 and 135,297 in 2010. There are an estimated 80,000 dogs (many strays) in Azerbaijan. The number of people injured from animal bites was 8,216 in 2003 and 10,987 in 2010. Human death due to rabies has increased 3 fold over this period (4 deaths in 2004, 13 in 2010).

Conclusions: We recommend improvement in dog vaccination coverage, capture and housing of stray animals and development of laboratory network capacity for proper collection, submission and analysis of specimens. Rabies laboratory participation in an External Quality Assessment (EQA) program would help address laboratory weaknesses.

Keywords: RVL, vaccination, laboratory network, External Quality Assessment

Word count: 268 

Author (s): 

Ayten Hajiyeva

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