Rabies trends and surveillance capabilities in Zambia
The main objective of this study was to assess the trends, distribution and positivity rate of rabies cases in Zambia. A retrospective study for the period of 10 years between 2004 and 2014, was conducted by using rabies case reports. The data were analyzed with descriptive statistics and geo-coded in Quantum Geographical Information System (QGIS) with the help of shape files. The geo-referenced data were then used to map the trend and spatial distribution of the disease on maps in a Geographical Information System (GIS) platform. The findings showed that 61.5% (462/751, 95% CI=57.9- 65.0) of the samples were positive. Canines accounted for 81.6% (95%, CI=77.7- 85) of the total positive samples followed by Bovines 9.1% (95%, CI= 6.7- 12.2). A mean monthly occurrence of canine rabies was 2.9. The average provincial positivity rate was 0.7. Positivity rates equal to or closer to one indicate poor surveillance; with rates equal to or closer to zero indicate good surveillance. One on one in-depth interview was conducted with one officer from each of these institutions i.e. The University of Zambia (UNZA), National Livestock and Epidemiological Information Center (NALEIC) and Central Veterinary Research Institute (CVRI) in order to familiarize with the current rabies surveillance systems in Zambia. The findings were that; sample submission is done by veterinarians and livestock officers and only UNZA and CVRI have capability for rabies diagnosis with NALEIC as a data storage institution. Rabies is endemic in Zambia and the dog is maintenance host for the disease in human and livestock populations. Therefore, controlling rabies in dogs indirectly overcomes the problem in human and livestock.
Keywords: Zambia, rabies, endemic, positivity rate, surveillance