The economic implications of sylvatic rabies eradication in Italy.Zoonoses Public Health. 2018 02; 65(1):147-157.ZP
After more than 10 years of absence, sylvatic rabies re-appeared in Italy in 2008. To prevent disease spread, three oral rabies vaccination (ORV) campaigns targeting red foxes were performed through manual distribution of vaccine baits between January and September 2009. As these campaigns proved unsuccessful, at the end of December 2009, baits started being distributed using helicopters, allowing uniform coverage of larger areas in a shorter time period. From winter 2009 to autumn 2016, a total of 15 ORV campaigns (four emergency, four regular and seven preventive ORV) were implemented through aerial distribution of baits. In this study, we assessed the costs of the aerial ORV campaigns, which were aimed at eradicating the disease and reobtaining the rabies-free status. Cumulative costs per km2 were estimated at €59.45 during emergency campaigns and ranged between €51.94 and €65.67 in the regular vaccinations. The main portion of costs for ORV programmes were related to baits supply and distribution: €49.24 (82.83%) in emergency campaigns and from €40.33 to € 43.35 in regular ORVs (71.97% and 66.02%, respectively). At the end of each ORV campaign, the efficacy of vaccination activities was estimated by assessing the proportion of foxes testing positive for tetracycline biomarker in jawbone, indicating bait intake. Results revealed that the proportion of foxes that ingested baits varied between 70.97% and 95.51%. Statistical analysis indicated that reducing the density of dropped baits could potentially lead to a cost-saving of 22.81%, still maintaining a satisfactory level of bait intake by the fox population.