Dog Ecology And Epidemiological Studies Of Canine Rabies In Aba Abia State Nigeria

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Rabies is an acute fatal viral zoonotic disease that affects all warm-blooded vertebrates and ischaracterized by central nervous system infection, followed by paralysis and death. For a proper understanding of the epidemiology of canine rabies in an area, it will be meaningful to study the ecology and population biology of dogs in the area. A descriptive and cross-sectional study was designed to assess the level of vaccination against rabies, factors associated with dog bite, to study dog ecology and also to detect the presence of rabies antigen in brain tissues of dogs slaughtered for human consumption in Aba, Abia State.Information was obtained from the Zonal Veterinary Clinic, Aba on dog bites and dog vaccination records covering six (6) years (2007-2012). Out of the3,169 dogs that were presented to the Veterinary Clinic,1354 (42.7%) received anti-rabies vaccination. Males (58.2%), exotic breed (50.6%) and dogs within 3 to 12 months of age (44.2%) had the highest frequency of vaccination.Out of 215 human dog bite cases, 11.6% were in individuals < 15 years of age while 44.7% were in individuals>30 years of age and 62.8% of the bites occurred among males.Most of the dog bites (63.7%) occurred on the leg.The study revealed that the 500 households surveyed had 5,823 individuals and 747 dogs, giving a dog-to-human ratio of 1:7.8. Thus the dog population in Aba is estimated to be 68,121.Of the 747 dogs, 66.3% were exotic,62.2% were males while 37.8% were females. About 63.8% of the households had fences that restricted dog movement. There were associations between breeds of dogs ( ᵡ2= 79.8, df = 2, P< 0.05), age of dogs ( ᵡ2= 22.9, df = 2, P<0.05 ) and vaccination against anti-rabies.Exotic breed (adjusted OR = 0.39; CI= 0.23- 0.65) and local breed of dogs ( adjusted OR= 0.08; CI= 0.04 – 0.14) had less odds of being vaccinated as compared to cross breed of dogs, Similarly dogs used as guard dogs (adjusted OR = 0.65; CI = 0.37 – 1.12) and dogs used for breeding/sales (adjusted OR = 0.41; CI= 0.22 – 0.79) purposes had less odds of being vaccinated as compared to dogs used as pets. One hundred and twenty six (126) dogs were estimated from street counts survey. Rabies antigen was detected in 13 out of 185 (7.0%) brain samples examined by direct fluorescent antibody test. The relatively high dog-to-human ratio, low vaccination coverage of owned dogs population, increasing reports of human dog bite cases and the presence of rabies antigen in dogs slaughtered for human consumption pose public health concerns and require adequate and well planned intervention through public health education and anti-rabies vaccination campaigns.

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