Using Integrated Bite Case Management to estimate the burden of rabies and evaluate surveillance in Oriental Mindoro, Philippines.

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Swedberg, Catherine 
Miranda, Mary Elizabeth G 
Bautista, Criselda 
Anderson, David 
Basa-Tulio, Marife 

BACKGROUND: Despite national elimination efforts, dog-mediated rabies remains endemic in the Philippines. Free provision of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) through the widespread establishment of Animal Bite Treatment Centers (ABTCs) has improved accessibility; however, the resulting upsurge in PEP demand is not sustainable, and human rabies deaths continue. Dog vaccination coverage also remains inadequate, and it is unclear whether surveillance is effective. METHODS: Here, we used Integrated Bite Case Management (IBCM) to collect enhanced rabies surveillance data in Oriental Mindoro Province over a 3-year period (2020-2022). Adapting a probabilistic decision tree model, we estimated the burden of rabies, evaluated surveillance performance, and analyzed the costs and benefits of current rabies prevention and control practices in the province. RESULTS: The incidence of bite patients receiving PEP was high in Oriental Mindoro Province (1,246/100,000 persons/year), though < 3% of presenting patients were deemed high-risk for rabies exposure (24/100,000 persons/year). Using a decision tree model, we estimated that around 73.8% of probable rabies-exposed patients sought PEP (95% Prediction Interval, PrI: 59.4%-81.1%) and that routine surveillance confirmed < 2% of circulating animal rabies cases, whereas IBCM resulted in a nearly fourfold increase in case detection. Furthermore, we estimated that an average of 560 (95% PrI 217-1,090) dogs may develop rabies annually in the province, equating to 3-5 cases per 1,000 dogs per year. On average, 20 to 43 human deaths were averted by PEP each year in Oriental Mindoro at an annual cost of $582,110 USD (i.e., $51.44 USD per person) or $20,190 USD (95% PrI $11,565-79,400) per death averted. CONCLUSION: While current practices for PEP provisioning in the Philippines have improved access, a large proportion of people exposed to rabies (> 26%, 95% PrI 18.8%-40.1%) are still not seeking healthcare. Integrating an intersectoral surveillance system, such as IBCM, into national policy could greatly improve case detection if well implemented, with further benefits extending to guidance for PEP administration, potentially reducing unnecessary expenditure on PEP, and situational awareness to inform control of rabies through mass dog vaccination.

Dog-mediated rabies, integrated bite case management, one health, post-exposure prophylaxis, surveillance
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One Health Imprement Res
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OAE Publishing Inc.