2.3.1. What does animal rabies surveillance comprise of?

Surveillance comprises structured sampling of suspect animals and testing for diagnostic confirmation. In general, the pathogenesis of rabies virus in terrestrial mammals is distinctive and the clinical course is not different from that in humans. The clinical signs of rabies in animals vary widely [read, see and hear more here], but infected animals will eventually die from the disease. Therefore, testing healthy animals is likely to give negative results, and is therefore of no value, as the presence of rabies virus can only be confirmed in the late stage of the disease and there is no “carrier state” (sub-clinical infection). Testing healthy animals will therefore bias the overall results considerably.

As any mammal is susceptible to infection with rabies virus, animal rabies surveillance should be an integral part of differential diagnosis of animals (mammals) showing clinical neurological signs or abnormal behavior, and must be based on diagnostic confirmation of suspect animals and probable cases. If suspicion is substantiated in the latter case, euthanasia of respective animals should occur. Also, in rabies endemic areas, road kills and animals found dead have a higher likelihood of being rabid and should be included in surveillance activities.

next page: 2.3.2 Are there any specific target species?


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