Knowledge and perceptions of dog-associated zoonoses: Brazos County, Texas, USA

Glenda M Bingham, Christine M Budke, Margaret R Slater
Preventive Veterinary Medicine 2010 February 1, 93 (2-3): 211-21
In order to assess the knowledge and perceptions of dog-associated zoonoses in Brazos County, Texas, random digit dialing was used to select 922 households for participation in a cross-sectional telephone survey. The interviews were completed during June 2008 and yielded a response rate of 55% (922/1691). Fifty-six percent of the respondents who completed the questionnaire owned dogs. Eighty-six percent of the respondents indicated they would report being bitten by a dog that they did not own. Five factors were shown to be significantly associated with such reporting. Those respondents who believed that rabies could be transmitted by bats were 5.5 times more likely (95% CI: 1.6, 18.6) to report a dog bite compared to people who did not hold this belief. Respondents who would seek emergency treatment if they believed they had been exposed to rabies were 3.1 times more likely to report a bite (95% CI: 1.8, 5.4). Those who were over 60 years of age were 2.3 times more likely (95% CI: 1.2, 4.4) to report being bitten when compared to respondents who were under the age of 60. Living inside the city limits also increased the chance that the respondent would report being bitten by a dog (OR 2.3, 95% CI: 1.4, 3.9). Females were 2.3 times more likely (95% CI: 1.3, 3.7) to report being bitten than their male counterparts. Dog ownership did not have a significant impact on reporting. Only 85% of respondents stated that they would seek emergency treatment if they believed that they may have been exposed to rabies. In addition, only 59% of respondents were aware that exposure to rabies without treatment could lead to death. While 98% of respondents had heard of rabies and knew that it was possible to get it from a dog, only 54% of respondents knew that worms could be transmitted from dogs to people. This study demonstrated that many people surveyed lacked knowledge about dog-associated zoonotic diseases, which could seriously impact their health and the health of their families. It is important to find a method of getting information out to the public in order to correct this deficiency.

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