Current characteristics of animal rabies cases in Thailand and relevant risk factors identified by a spatial modeling approach.

Journal: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

The situation of human rabies in Thailand has gradually declined over the past four decades. However, the number of animal rabies cases has slightly increased in the last ten years. This study thus aimed to describe the characteristics of animal rabies between 2017 and 2018 in Thailand in which the prevalence was fairly high and to quantify the association between monthly rabies occurrences and explainable variables using the generalized additive models (GAMs) to predict the spatial risk areas for rabies spread. Our results indicate that the majority of animals affected by rabies in Thailand are dogs. Most of the affected dogs were owned, free or semi-free roaming, and unvaccinated. Clusters of rabies were highly distributed in the northeast, followed by the central and the south of the country. Temporally, the number of cases gradually increased after June and reached a peak in January. Based on our spatial models, human and cattle population density as well as the spatio-temporal history of rabies occurrences, and the distances from the cases to the secondary roads and country borders are identified as the risk factors. Our predictive maps are applicable for strengthening the surveillance system in high-risk areas. Nevertheless, the identified risk factors should be rigorously considered and integrated into the strategic plans for the prevention and control of animal rabies in Thailand.

Weerapong Thanapongtharm, arin Suwanpakdee, run Chumkaeo, arius Gilbert, nuwat Wiratsudakul
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