2.1.11 Who is responsible for implementing rabies surveillance?

This may vary among locations around the world. In the developed world, rabies is often a notifiable disease reported from states or provinces to a responsible entity at the national government level. This allows for analysis and reporting back to the state, provincial, county and municipal levels to provide a more holistic view of the rabies situation, which can lead to better coordination of surveillance and control among jurisdictions. At a minimum, considering the high case fatality, public health authorities must be involved with human exposures, risk assessments and PEP applications, per the considerations detailed below.

The human component

Generally, public health officials are charged with this responsibility. However, effective human surveillance is dependent on a system that includes rabies in animals, which are viral reservoirs. Across Africa and Asia, which account for most of the 74,000 annual human rabies deaths, the dog is the most important responsible viral reservoir and vector (read more here). Conducting surveillance from a centralized location often may not provide timely coverage and responsiveness if human rabies cases occur in rural or remote areas of a country. Rather, the surveillance should be based on a network of local officials or health personnel that submit their data at a regional or national level. Education and outreach to heighten rabies awareness among the human population remain cornerstones of programs to better ensure human victims of animal bites receive prompt and proper care to prevent rabies and to identify human rabies cases which are often not referred to hospitals or local health centers.

The animal component

Generally, animal health officials associated with agricultural veterinary services play a key role in domestic animal surveillance, and often in wildlife surveillance as well. Wildlife biologists often play a key role in wildlife rabies surveillance. However, a community-based One Health network of disciplines is perhaps one of the best approaches to ensure that suspect animals can be monitored or removed and tested. Such a network may include local veterinarians, wildlife officials, animal control, police and others, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The latter may also help facilitating necessary exchange of information and data and the dialogue among the different partners of the network of the surveillance and response system.

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[en]Version 1 Last updated December 2014[fr]Première version, dernière mise à jour Juin 2015