Predictors of free-roaming domestic dogs’ contact network centrality and their relevance for rabies control

Warembourg C., Fournié G., Abakar M.F., Alvarez D., Berger-González M., Odoch T., Wera E., Alobo G., Carvallo E.T.L., Bal V.D., López Hernandez A.L., Madaye E., Maximiano Sousa F., Naminou A., Roquel P., Hartnack S., Zinsstag J., Dürr S.

Veterinary Public Health Institute, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland; Royal Veterinary College, University of London, London, United Kingdom; Institut de Recherche en Elevage pour le Développement, N’Djaména, Chad; Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland; College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda; Kupang State Agricultural Polytechnic (Politeknik Pertanian Negeri Kupang), West Timor, Indonesia; Animal Health Division, Agricultural Department of Sikka Regency, Flores, Indonesia; Section of Epidemiology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland


Free roaming domestic dogs (FRDD) are the main vectors for rabies transmission to humans worldwide. To eradicate rabies from a dog population, current recommendations focus on random vaccination with at least 70% coverage. Studies suggest that targeting high-risk subpopulations could reduce the required vaccination coverage, and increase the likelihood of success of elimination campaigns. The centrality of a dog in a contact network can be used as a measure of its potential contribution to disease transmission. Our objectives were to investigate social networks of FRDD in eleven study sites in Chad, Guatemala, Indonesia and Uganda, and to identify characteristics of dogs, and their owners, associated with their centrality in the networks. In all study sites, networks had small-world properties and right-skewed degree distributions, suggesting that vaccinating highly connected dogs would be more effective than random vaccination. Dogs were more connected in rural than urban settings, and the likelihood of contacts was negatively correlated with the distance between dogs’ households. While heterogeneity in dog’s connectedness was observed in all networks, factors predicting centrality and likelihood of contacts varied across networks and countries. We therefore hypothesize that the investigated dog and owner characteristics resulted in different contact patterns depending on the social, cultural and economic context. We suggest to invest into understanding of the sociocultural structures impacting dog ownership and thus driving dog ecology, a requirement to assess the potential of targeted vaccination in dog populations. © 2021, The Author(s).


Scientific Reports

Publisher: Nature Research

Volume 11, Issue 1, Art No 12898, Page – , Page Count

Journal Link:

doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-92308-7

Issn: 20452322

Type: All Open Access, Gold, Green


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