OBJECTIVE To develop a method to assist in the design and assessment of animal rabies control campaigns. METHODS A methodology was developed based on geographic information systems to estimate the animal (canine and feline) population and density per census tract and per subregion (known as "Subprefeituras") in the city of São Paulo (Southeastern Brazil) in 2002. The number of vaccination units in a given region was estimated to achieve a certain proportion of vaccination coverage. Census database was used for the human population, as well as estimates ratios of dog:inhabitant and cat:inhabitant. RESULTS Estimated figures were 1,490,500 dogs and 226,954 cats in the city, i.e. an animal population density of 1138.14 owned animals per km(2). In the 2002 campaign, 926,462 were vaccinated, resulting in a vaccination coverage of 54%. The estimated number of vaccination units to be able to reach a 70%-vaccination coverage, by vaccinating 700 animals per unit on average, was 1,729. These estimates are presented as maps of animal density according to census tracts and "Subprefeituras". CONCLUSIONS The methodology used in the study may be applied in a systematic way to the design and evaluation of rabies vaccination campaigns, enabling the identification of areas of critical vaccination coverage.


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