Knowledge of rabies and dog-related behaviors among people in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia

Sothy Sor, Michiyo Higuchi, Mohammad Abul Bashar Sarker, Nobuyuki Hamajima
Tropical Medicine and Health 2018, 46: 20

Background: The rabies incidence and number of dogs in Cambodia are much higher than in nearby countries. Knowledge and behaviors which are related to rabies and/or dogs are considered to be contributing factors for rabies infection control in the community; however, such information in rural Cambodia is limited. This cross-sectional study aimed to assess knowledge and experiences related to rabies as well as dog-related behaviors among people in Siem Reap Province, and to identify the specific factors associated with adequate knowledge.

Methods: Four-stage sampling was employed to identify villages and households. In total, 360 respondents were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Data were descriptively summarized and logistic regression was performed to estimate odds ratios of adequate knowledge related to rabies for respondents' characteristics.

Results: Only 9.7% of respondents had adequate knowledge of rabies. Of the respondents, 86.9 and 18.3% had experienced hearing of or seeing a suspected rabid dog and a suspected rabid human, respectively. More than two-thirds (70.6%) of households had at least one dog, and the ratio of dog to human populations was 1: 2.8. Only a few owners had vaccinated dogs, used a cage, or tied up their dog. Visiting a health center was the first choice of treatment for respondents when bitten by a dog. However, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) was not commonly expected as a treatment choice by respondents. Those with higher education were more likely to have adequate knowledge than those with no education (adjusted OR 12.34, 95% CI 2.64-57.99, p  < 0.01). Farmers and non-poor families were also less likely to have adequate knowledge than those of other professions and poor families (adjusted OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.12-0.76, p  = 0.01, and adjusted OR 0.13, 95% CI 0.04-0.47, p  < 0.01, respectively).

Conclusions: High dog population, inadequate knowledge of rabies, low recognition of human rabies, and poor dog management were found to be serious challenges for controlling rabies. Health education related to rabies should be introduced, targeting farmers in particular who easily encounter stray dogs but have little knowledge of rabies risk factors and signs. At the same time, PEP delivery and dog management should be improved.

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