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

Warembourg, Charlotte; Fournié, Guillaume; Abakar, Mahamat Fayiz; Alvarez, Danilo; Berger-González, Monica; Odoch, Terence; Wera, Ewaldus; Alobo, Grace; Carvallo, Elfrida Triasny Ludvina; Bal, Valentin Dingamnayal; López Hernandez, Alexis Leonel; Madaye, Enos; Maximiano Sousa, Filipe; Naminou, Abakar; Roquel, Pablo; Hartnack, Sonja; Zinsstag, Jakob; Dürr, Salome (2021). Predictors of free-roaming domestic dogs' contact network centrality and their relevance for rabies control. Scientific reports, 11(1) Springer Nature 10.1038/s41598-021-92308-7

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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.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Public Health Institute

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Warembourg, Charlotte Mélanie, Maximiano Alves de Sousa, Filipe Miguel, Dürr, Salome Esther


600 Technology
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture




Springer Nature




Susanne Agnes Lerch

Date Deposited:

10 Aug 2021 10:33

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:52

Publisher DOI:





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