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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 2751-2757

A cross-sectional study of awareness and practices regarding animal bites in rural community, North India

1 Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2 Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar Government Medical College, Nahan District Sirmour, Himachal Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Neha Dahiya
Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh - 160 012
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_158_20

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Introduction: Repeated epidemiological studies to monitor trends of knowledge and practices are needed to guide strategies to control rabies. We conducted a study to assess the current knowledge, attitudes, and practices in relation to animal bites in the rural area of north India. Methods: House to house survey to collect data on animal bites was conducted among 300 households (assuming awareness regarding animal bites to be 25%, precision 95%, and power of 80%) from the rural area of Punjab, north India. A pretested semi-structured questionnaire comprising of items that explored sociodemographic details (age, educational qualification, occupation, socioeconomic status (assessed through Udai Pareek scale), and awareness regarding rabies, knowledge about first aid, attitude, and practices regarding anti-rabies vaccination (ARV) was used. Detailed questions were asked to those who owned pets. Results: A total of 300 households were included in the analysis. Among all respondents, 30.4% (117) had an episode of animal bite in their family giving a bite incidence rate of 78/1000 population. Bites were more frequent in males (65.8%, n = 77). The commonest site of the bite was lower limb (65%) followed by upper limb (21.4%), and head and neck (5.1%). The participants said that bites by pet animals (47%) are more common than those by stray animals (35.9%), followed by wild animals (12.8%). Almost 91% of respondents told that they would prefer govt. hospital for the treatment. Class I bite was most common (88.9%) followed by class II (8.5%) and class III (1.7%). A lot of respondents (41.4%) did not know about the symptoms of rabies in humans. Only 17.5% knew the appropriate wound care. Inappropriate practices like applying chilly (48.8%), lime (13.1%), tying the limb above the wound (5.1%), and others were common. Only 15.5% washed their wound with soap and water. Most of those who were bitten received post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) (80%). Most of the respondents (98.3%) had heard about ARV but didn't know about the site of injection. Almost everyone (99.35) said that no awareness camps/programs had been conducted in their villages/school/health center to date. Conclusion: There is a high incidence of animal bites in rural areas. Awareness regarding the need for rabies vaccine of animals and PEP after an animal bite is quite high and is practiced. However, there is a lack of awareness regarding the course of action to be followed when an animal does develop rabies. Traditional and inappropriate practices of wound management persist and need to be countered. Improving the availability of ARV and rabies immunoglobulin through the public health system may further augment the uptake of PEP and completion of treatment while at the same time reducing out of pocket expenditure and the overall economic cost of rabies. Solid waste management in rural areas along with oral ARV is likely to reduce the incidence of rabies in rural areas.

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