2.3.4. Do we need a minimum sample size for effective animal rabies surveillance?

In the past, the number of samples to be tested for animal rabies surveillance was recommended by international regulatory bodies (WHO, OIE, and EU). It is now generally accepted that defining a sample size for rabies surveillance in animals is problematic causing countries that experience difficulties in meeting such requirements to remove and sample healthy animals to meet the given target.

However, rabies pathogenesis in terrestrial mammals is distinctive, as infected animals will eventually die from the disease. Taking this concept into consideration, defining a sample size for rabies surveillance to prove the absence or presence of rabies is problematic, regardless of the reservoir and spillover species. Instead, rabies surveillance should focus on indicator animals (see section 2.3.5), and numbers of these animals cannot be predetermined [read more here]. The discovery of those animals is a matter of awareness and vigilance and responsible authorities need to make sure that as many indicator animals as possible will be submitted for laboratory testing as relevant.

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