JG Kamau1, WO Ogara1, JJ McDermott2, PM Kitala*
1 Department of Public Health, Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Nairobi, PO Box 29053 00625, Nairobi, Kenya
2 International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), PO Box 30709, Nairobi, Kenya
* Corresponding Author
We investigate the possibility of cross-infection by rabies between domestic animals and wild mammalian carnivores at a wild-domestic animal interface. The area was known to have a domestic-dog rabies but the involvement of wildlife was unknown. Four sublocations within a transect of approximately 20 km along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway were selected as the study area. A total of 202 households within the area were randomly selected and visited to collect information on wildlife abundance and habits, and for wild-life-domestic dog interactions. Forty of the 202 households were randomly selected for wildlife trapping. An eight-month long community-and road-kill-based rabies surveillance was implemented in the 4 sublocations. The white-tailed mongoose (Ischeumia albicauda), the genet cat (Genetta genetta), the common mongoose (Herpestes spp), the civet cat (Viverra civetta) and the bush squirrel (Paraxerus spp), were identified as the most prevalent species of wildlife in the area. Seventy-one percent (143/202) of the households reported having heard or witnessed their dogs fighting with unspecified wild animal species. White-tailed mongooses (11) and genet cats (11) were the species of wild carnivores trapped within the precincts of the households. The domestic dog accounted for 91% (20/22) of the rabies positive animal brain specimens collected in the community-based rabies surveillance. Only 6.2% (5/81) of the specimens from road-kills were positive for rabies including a domestic cat, a goat, a common mongoose (Herpestes spp), a genet cat, and an unidentified wildlife species.
This study has revealed that small wild carnivores are frequent in Kibwezi and interact with dogs. Dogs are currently the main species for transmission of rabies but there is some rabies in wildlife. The potential for wildlife to act as a reservoir for rabies as in other areas where dog rabies has been controlled needs further investigation.
Keywords: Rabies; Surveillance; Community-based; road-kills; Kenya