BANGKOK, 10 January 2017 (NNT) The Department of Livestock Development (DLD) plans to make Thailand free of rabies by 2020, given a dog and cat population control campaign.

DLD Director General Apai Suttisunk said that fatalities from the disease have increased over the last two years, despite a general decline in the infection rate over the past decade.

Eighty-six percent of the rabies in Thailand was commonly found in dogs and was exacerbated by an increased number of stray dogs and cats. The department head said the most effective solution is to control the dog and cat populations through permanent sterilization which can reduce the rate of reproduction by 10 percent.

The DLD has launched the dog and cat population control campaign in risk areas, including the provinces of Samut Prakarn, Chonburi and Nakhon Ratchasima.

The director said the campaign has been carried out since December 2016 until February 2017 with the aim of containing stray dogs and cats, suppressing the smuggling of dogs to neighboring countries and supporting Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn's initiative to rid Thailand of animal diseases, and realizing the national goal of eliminating the rabies by 2020.