Dog owner knowledge and attitudes towards oral vaccination : a field study on canine rabies in Lao PDR
Abstract: Rabies is a fatal viral disease causing around 59,000 deaths each year worldwide. Out of all deaths, 95% occur in Africa and Asia. In Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) rabies is endemic with dogs being the main virus reservoir. All mammals can be infected by the rabies virus but up to 99% of human rabies cases are transmitted by dogs. The virus is mainly transmitted through saliva contact with wounds or mucosa and the incubation time is generally 20-60 days, but it can be several years. Symptoms include behavioral changes, anorexia, vomiting, excessive salivation, ataxia, paralysis and seizures and results in death through paralysis of the breathing musculature. Rabies is 100% preventable by vaccination. WHO (World Health Organisation), WOAH (World Organization for Animal Health) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) have together formed the UAR (United Against Rabies) platform. The goal is to have zero dog-mediated human rabies deaths by 2030. WHO finds rabies vaccination of dogs to be an important measure to reach this goal, however it’s considered difficult to reach adequate vaccination coverage with parenteral vaccination only. Therefore, there has been a promotion of oral rabies vaccination, which has helped eliminate rabies in wildlife in Europe. Oral rabies vaccines have been shown in studies to be safe, effective and stable in field conditions, however, there has been a few incidents of vaccine induced rabies cases in animals and vaccine induced skin infections in humans. Bait preferences have been shown to vary between countries. Oral vaccine baits can be distributed in different ways, including handing out the bait to dogs and distributing them in the environment. Oral rabies vaccination has been shown to be more cost effective and less time consuming than other methods. The goal of this study was to investigate knowledge and attitudes towards oral rabies vaccination campaigns among dog owners in Lao PDR. The study was carried out in three different provinces in Lao PDR during 2022. Participants included dog owners in these districts, who answered questionnaires and some also participated in group discussions, as well as village leaders who were interviewed. Dog owner knowledge was low regarding rabies hosts, transmission, vaccines, seriousness and symptoms. Most dog owners (87.6%) would prefer to vaccinate their dogs against rabies through an injection, while 12.4% would prefer the oral route. However, 60.2% thinks oral vaccination is a very good idea. Dog owners and village leaders considered oral vaccination to be easier, safer when vaccinating aggressive, and more ethical. It was considered an advantage that dog owners could perform the vaccination themselves. Concerns were the risk of the vaccine not being effective, being bitten while providing vaccine, potential side effects and the dogs not consuming the baits. Almost all (98.1%) dog owners claimed to be willing to pay to rabies vaccinate their dog. To reach the Zero by 30 goal, there need to be information campaigns on rabies to fill the knowledge gaps. This study shows an openness among dog owners to oral rabies vaccination, however further research is needed on this topic.
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