Epidemiology, Economics and Risk Assessment

Accelerating rabies elimination in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia

EERA and Mission Rabies are working together to improve the efficiency of rabies vaccination campaigns and surveillance in Africa and Asia.

Mission rabies van




Rabies is a devastating yet preventable disease that causes around 59,000 human deaths and an economic burden of $8.6 billion annually. Almost all human rabies cases are caused by bites from rabies-infected dogs. A disproportionate number of these cases occur in children in Sub-Saharan Africa and India. Annual vaccination of at least 70% of the dog population is recommended by the World Health Organisation in order to eliminate rabies. Despite this being known for a number of years, global rabies elimination programmes have floundered due to a diverse mix of political, technical and logistical challenges.

Overall aim:

Harness big data and novel technologies to accelerate rabies elimination


Collaboration with Mission Rabies


The University of Edinburgh has a long-standing collaboration with Mission Rabies charity, an NGO that focuses on delivering mass canine rabies vaccination programmes, education outreach and disease surveillance using their bespoke smartphone app for team direction and field data collection. Our collaboration provides an unprecedented opportunity to access and analyse rich, high-volume data describing dog demographics, vaccination and rabies in India and Malawi, whilst providing a platform through which to directly apply research outcomes back into large-scale field operations.


Using data generated through Mission Rabies mass vaccination campaigns and through complex epidemiological studies designed by EERA, we investigate ways to optimise delivery of impactful rabies elimination programmes in various settings including Sub-Saharan Africa (Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana) and Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Thailand).


Examples of our work:


  1. Establishing how rabies vaccination programmes can be delivered in a cost effective and time efficient manner
  2. Establishing the impact of rabies education programmes,
  3. Developing novel oral bait vaccination programmes aimed at hard to reach, free roaming dog populations
  4. Designing efficient rabies surveillance methods
  5. Improving our understanding of rabies diagnostic test performance
  6. Characterising dog movement patterns including human mediated dog movements
  7. Assessing performance of various dog population estimation techniques


Related Links



Selected Publications


Sánchez Soriano C, Gibson AD, Gamble L, Burdon Bailey JL, Green S, Green M, Bronsvoort BM, Handel IG, Mellanby RJ,  Mazeri S. (2019) Development of a high number, high coverage dog rabies vaccination programme in Sri Lanka. BMC Infections Diseases. Accepted

Gibson AD,  Mazeri S, Yale G, Desai S, Naik V, Corfmat J, Ortmann S, King A, Müller T, Handel I, Bronsvoort BM, Gamble L, Mellanby RJ, Vos A. (2019) Development of a Non-Meat-Based, Mass Producible and Effective Bait for Oral Vaccination of Dogs against Rabies in Goa State, India. Trop Med Infect Dis.. 4;4(3)  doi:10.3390/tropicalmed4030118

Meunier NV, Gibson AD, Corfmat J,  Mazeri S, Handel IG, Gamble L, Bronsvoort BMC, Mellanby RJ. (2019) A comparison of population estimation techniques for individually unidentifiable free-roaming dogs. BMC veterinary research. 15 (1), 190 doi:10.1186/s12917-019-1938-1

Yale G, Gibson AD, Mani RS, Harsha PK, Costa NC, Corfmat J, Otter I, Otter N, Handel IG, Bronsvoort BM, Mellanby RJ, Desai S, Naik V, Gamble L, Mazeri S. (2019) Evaluation of an Immunochromatographic Assay as a Canine Rabies Surveillance Tool in Goa, India. Viruses. 11 (7), 649 doi:10.3390/v11070649

Evans MJ, Burdon Bailey JL, Lohr FE, Opira W, Migadde M, Gibson AD, Handel IG, Bronsvoort BMC, Mellanby RJ, Gamble L, Mazeri S. (2019) Implementation of high coverage mass rabies vaccination in rural Uganda using predominantly static point methodology. The Veterinary Journal. 249, 60-66 doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2019.04.013

Gibson AD, Yale G, Vos A, Corfmat J, Airikkala-Otter I, King A, RM Wallace RM, Gamble L, Handel IG, Mellanby RJ, Bronsvoort BMC,  Mazeri S. (2019) Oral bait handout as a method to access roaming dogs for rabies vaccination in Goa, India: A proof of principle study. Vaccine: X. 1, 100015 doi:10.1016/j.jvacx.2019.100015

Meunier NV, Gibson AD, Corfmat J,  Mazeri S, Handel IG, B Bronsvoort BMC, Gamble L, Mellanby RJ. (2019) Reproducibility of the mark-resight method to assess vaccination coverage in free-roaming dogs. Research in veterinary science. 123, 305-310 doi:10.1016/j.rvsc.2019.02.009

Mazeri S, Gibson AD, Bronsvoort BMC, Ian G Handel, Lohr F, Burdon Bailey J, Mayer D, Gamble L, Mellanby RJ. (2019) Sociodemographic factors which predict low private rabies vaccination coverage in dogs in Blantyre, Malawi. Veterinary Record. 184 (9), 281-281 doi:10.1136/vr.105000

Gamble L, Gibson A,  Mazeri S, Bronsvoort BMC, Handel I, Mellanby RJ. (2019) Development of non-governmental organization - academic partnership to tackle rabies in Africa and Asia. Journal of Small Animal Practice. 60 (1), 18-20  doi:10.1111/jsap.12934

Gibson AD, Frederic Lohr F, Mayer D, Burdon Bailey J,  Mazeri S, Handel IG, Shervell K, Bronsvoort BMD, Mellanby RJ and Gamble G. (2018) One million dog vaccinations recorded on mHealth innovation used to direct teams in numerous rabies control campaigns. PLoS One.13(7): e0200942 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0200942

Burdon Bailey JL, Gamble L, Gibson AD, Bronsvoort BMD, Handel IG, Mellanby RJ,  Mazeri S. (2018) A Rabies Lesson Improves Rabies Knowledge Amongst Primary School Children in Zomba, Malawi. PLoS neglected tropical diseases. 9;12(3):e0006293 doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0006293

 Mazeri S, Gibson AD, Meunier N, Bronsvoort BMD, Handel IG, Mellanby RJ, Gamble L (2018) Barriers of attendance to dog rabies static point vaccination clinics in Blantyre, Malawi. PLoS neglected tropical diseases. 11;12(1):e0006159 doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0006159