Dog ecology and its implications for rabies control in Gwagwalada, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria.
The objectives of this study were to determine the characteristics of a dog population, including their accessibility to vaccination and health care, in urban and semiurban areas of Gwagwalada, Abuja, Nigeria. Direct street counts and a house-to-house survey of city streets were performed. A total of 451 households were surveyed comprising 43.7% urban and 53.3% semiurban areas. A total of 848 owned dogs were identified, along with 3,115 corresponding humans. With a dog-to-human ratio of 1:3.7, the dog population in the study area was estimated as 103,758. A total of 396 dogs were counted on the streets with the greater proportion (74%) in semiurban areas. Most dogs in semiurban areas (77.3%) had no certificate confirming vaccination against rabies, compared to 47.2% in urban areas (p=.004). The majority of dogs in the urban (60.9%) and semiurban (82.0%) were free roaming. In the multivariable model, age, presence of a collar, region, sex, use and having ever visited a veterinarian were significantly associated with rabies vaccination. The majority (125/197, 63.5%) of respondents with higher education were willing to pay more for the healthcare needs of their dogs as opposed to those with a lower level of education (93/251, 37.1%, p=.001). The study revealed a high dog population density, vaccination coverage below WHO recommendation of 70% and generally reduced healthcare-seeking behaviour among dog owners in Gwagwalada, Abuja, Nigeria.