What is it about?

Rabies is a virus that affects wild and domestic animals that can affect humans. Rabies infection is almost certainly fatal once clinical symptoms appear but can be prevented with timely post-exposure prophylaxis administration. Dogs are the primary source of rabies transmission; eliminating dog rabies reduces the risk of exposure in humans significantly. Global prevention efforts have focused on reducing the incidence of dog rabies using mass vaccination strategies for dogs living in urban and rural areas. In Mexico, the national program of dog rabies vaccination has accomplished a progressive reduction of rabies episodes since 1990. Using a mathematical model of rabies transmission, we estimated the costs and effectiveness of the dog rabies vaccination program in Mexico, compared to a counterfactual scenario with no dog rabies vaccination. Our estimates suggest the program prevented about 13,000 human rabies deaths between 1990 and 2015, at an average cost of USD410 per year of life gained.

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Why is it important?

The systematic evaluation of public health programs and interventions is essential to evaluate their continuity, redefine priorities, characterize and understand population health progress, and inform public health decision-making.


Dog rabies is still a major threat to global public health, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. We used a mathematical model to assess a mass dog vaccination program in Mexico that progressively eliminated rabies transmission. While there is still a risk that rabies could be reintroduced to the country, we hope that the success of this program can inform and inspire policymakers and public health officials in rabies-endemic countries to implement effective public health actions.

Eduardo Undurraga
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile

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This page is a summary of: Cost-effectiveness of the national dog rabies prevention and control program in Mexico, 1990–2015, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, March 2021, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0009130.
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