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Enhancing Rabies Control in Bhutan

Rabies is a fatal and neglected zoonotic disease that causes an estimated 55,000 human deaths every year globally. In Bhutan, rabies is mainly reported in southern parts of the country along the border with India (1).

Domestic dogs are the main source of and vector for rabies transmission to livestock and people. In Bhutan, the large numbers of free-roaming dogs freely cohabit with people. This poses a high risk of dog bite, and the number of requests for anti-rabies vaccination by people who have been bitten is increasing (2,3).

To manage the dog population and implement rabies control, a Capture-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release (CNVR) program has been conducted in collaboration with Humane Society International. However, the effectiveness of this program has
not been assessed.

This study aimed to conduct a population survey to provide information about: the population size of free-roaming dogs; the proportion of owned dogs that are free-roaming; and vaccination coverage in the country. These data will help to inform policy on enhancing rabies control programs in Bhutan.
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