U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

Fall 2010


Human–Wildlife Interactions 4(2):155–157, Fall 2010


The current world dog (Canis lupus familiaris) population is estimated to be around 500 million (MacPherson et al. 2000). About 75% of these animals, which often are referred to as stray or feral, are free to roam and reproduce and may have a negative impact on human activities (World Society for the Protection of Animals 2010). Problems caused by freeroaming dogs include zoonoses, predation on livestock, attacks on humans, and road traffic accidents (MacPherson et al. 2000). Among the 55,000 human deaths that occur each year from zoonoses, dogs are responsible for >90%. In addition, >14 million people per year receive post‑exposure prophylaxis following a dog bite (Meslin 2008). The majority of deaths and postbite vaccinations occur in Asian and African countries, which can barely afford this burden (Knobel et al. 2005).

The World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health have targeted rabies eradication through mass dog vaccination, public education, and dog population management. The latter could be achieved by reducing the number of strays and by controlling the trade and movement of dogs. A reduction in the number of human cases of rabies in Europe, South America, Japan, and the Caribbean was achieved by vaccination of dogs. Vaccination is underway in other Asian and African countries (Cleaveland et al. 2006).