Knowledge, attitudes and practices towards rabies: questionnaire survey in rural household heads of Gondar Zuria District, Ethiopia

Reta T Digafe, Legesse G Kifelew, Abraham F Mechesso
BMC Research Notes 2015 September 2, 8: 400

BACKGROUND: Rabies is a fatal animal disease of significant public health importance. Domestic dogs are the main reservoir and transmitter of this disease particularly in developing countries. Even though rabies is a highly fatal disease, it is a preventable disease. Community awareness about rabies is one of the key components for prevention. This study describes the knowledge, attitudes and practices of a rural community in Gondar Zuria District, Ethiopia.

METHODS: A cross sectional study was conducted from March to June, 2013. A structured questionnaire was used to collect the data through face to face interviews among 400 respondents. The data were then analyzed using SPSS statistical software version 20.

RESULTS: The current study indicated that almost all (99.3%) of the surveyed individuals were aware of the disease rabies. Rabies is considered to be a fatal disease in humans by 67.8% of the respondents while 27.8% believe that it is a treatable disease. Dogs were indicated as source of infection for humans by all respondents followed by equines (27.2%) and cats (12.1%). Bite was known as mode of rabies transmission by majority of the respondents (94%) while other means were given less weight. Aggression was described as a major clinical sign of rabies in animals. Consumption of cooked or boiled meat from rabid animals was considered as safe by 67.0% of the respondents and about 19% replied even raw meat is safe for human consumption. The need for immediate treatment after exposure was mentioned by less than half (47.4%) of the respondents and only 38.8% of the respondents considered modern medicine as appropriate treatment after exposure to rabid animals. Nearly 42% of respondents had experienced a dog bite. Following the dog bites, only 30.7% practiced washing of the wounds with water as first aid.

CONCLUSION: Rabies was found to be well known in the study area. However, knowledge and practices in prevention of rabies were limited. Education of rabies about possible sources of infection, mode of transmission and measures to be taken after exposure is very important in the study area.

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