The Caucasus is a region of geopolitical importance, in the gateway between Europe and Asia. This geographical location makes the region equally important in the epidemiology and control of transboundary infectious diseases such as rabies. Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus, and although rabies is notifiable and considered endemic, there is little information on the burden of human and animal rabies. Here, we describe a cross-disciplinary international collaboration aimed at improving rabies control in Azerbaijan. Partial nucleoprotein gene sequences were obtained from animal rabies cases for comparison with those from surrounding areas. Reported human and animal rabies cases between 2000 and 2010 were also reviewed and analysed by region and year. Comparison of rabies virus strains circulating in Azerbaijan demonstrates more than one lineage of rabies virus circulating concurrently in Azerbaijan and illustrates the need for further sample collection and characterization. Officially reported rabies data showed an increase in human and animal rabies cases, and an increase in animal bites requiring provision of post-exposure prophylaxis, since 2006. This is despite apparently consistent levels of dog vaccination and culling of stray dogs.
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