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Community rabies knowledge and pet vaccination practices after a skunk rabies outbreak in Eddy County, New Mexico

Carrie S. McNeilEpidemic Intelligence Service, CDC, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333.

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Samantha NagyPublic Health Associate Program, CDC, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333.

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Catherine MoonanPublic Health Associate Program, CDC, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333.

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Ryan M. WallaceEpidemic Intelligence Service, CDC, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333.

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Neil M. VoraEpidemic Intelligence Service, CDC, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333.

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Jessie L. DyerPoxvirus and Rabies Branch, CDC, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333.

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Jesse D. BlantonPoxvirus and Rabies Branch, CDC, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333.

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Tina DoradoCity of Carlsbad Animal Control, 602 W Mermod St, Carlsbad, NM 88220.

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Mark L. HeinrichCarlsbad Animal Clinic, 103 E Blodgett St, Carlsbad, NM 88220.

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Robin SankeyAnimal Care Center, 1302 Canal St, Carlsbad, NM 88220.

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Samantha UhrigDesert Willow Veterinary Services, 512 E Fiesta Dr, Carlsbad, NM 88220.

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Angela CaryNoah's Ark Animal Shelter, 5217 Buena Vista Dr, Carlsbad, NM 88220.

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Woods HoughtonEddy County Agriculture Extension Agent, 1304 W Stevens, Carlsbad, NM 88220.

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Paul EttestadNew Mexico Department of Health, 1190 St Francis Dr, Santa Fe, NM 87505.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine percentages of domestic cats and dogs vaccinated against rabies, identify barriers to vaccination, and assess knowledge about rabies in a semirural New Mexico community after a skunk rabies outbreak.

Design—Cross-sectional, door-to-door, bilingual, community-based participatory survey.

Sample—366 residential properties in Eddy County, NM.

Procedures—The New Mexico Department of Health and CDC administered surveys and analyzed data.

Results—Individuals at 247 of the 366 residential properties participated in the survey. One hundred eighty of the 247 (73%) households owned a dog (n = 292) or cat (163). Cats were more likely than dogs to not have an up-to-date rabies vaccination status (prevalence ratio, 3.2; 95% confidence interval, 2.3 to 4.4). Cost and time or scheduling were the most frequently identified barriers to vaccination. One hundred sixty (65%) respondents did not know livestock can transmit rabies, 78 (32%) did not know rabies is fatal, and 89 (36%) did not know a bat scratching a person can be an exposure. Only 187 (76%) respondents indicated they would contact animal control if they saw a sick skunk, and only 166 (67%) indicated they would contact animal control if bitten by a dog they did not own.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Findings indicated that rabies vaccination prevalence among pet dogs and cats was low, despite the fact that the region had experienced a skunk rabies outbreak during the previous 2 years. In addition, substantial percentages of respondents did not have correct knowledge of rabies or rabies exposure.

Abstract

Objective—To determine percentages of domestic cats and dogs vaccinated against rabies, identify barriers to vaccination, and assess knowledge about rabies in a semirural New Mexico community after a skunk rabies outbreak.

Design—Cross-sectional, door-to-door, bilingual, community-based participatory survey.

Sample—366 residential properties in Eddy County, NM.

Procedures—The New Mexico Department of Health and CDC administered surveys and analyzed data.

Results—Individuals at 247 of the 366 residential properties participated in the survey. One hundred eighty of the 247 (73%) households owned a dog (n = 292) or cat (163). Cats were more likely than dogs to not have an up-to-date rabies vaccination status (prevalence ratio, 3.2; 95% confidence interval, 2.3 to 4.4). Cost and time or scheduling were the most frequently identified barriers to vaccination. One hundred sixty (65%) respondents did not know livestock can transmit rabies, 78 (32%) did not know rabies is fatal, and 89 (36%) did not know a bat scratching a person can be an exposure. Only 187 (76%) respondents indicated they would contact animal control if they saw a sick skunk, and only 166 (67%) indicated they would contact animal control if bitten by a dog they did not own.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Findings indicated that rabies vaccination prevalence among pet dogs and cats was low, despite the fact that the region had experienced a skunk rabies outbreak during the previous 2 years. In addition, substantial percentages of respondents did not have correct knowledge of rabies or rabies exposure.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Sankey's present address is Animal Ophthalmology Clinic, 4444 Trinity Mills Rd, Ste 201, Dallas, TX 75287.

Dr. Dyer's present address is Department of Anthropology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

No third-party funding or support was received in connection with this study or the writing or publication of the manuscript.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the CDC.

The authors thank Amber Singh, Michael Landen, Julie Magri, Byron Robinson, Sergio Recuenco, Sandra Melman, Elizabeth VinHatton, Megin Nichols, Melissa Pfeiffer, Judith Ortego, Anthony Landreth, Larry Yturralde, Michelle Bourie, Isaac Florez, Teresa Gauntt, and Jennifer Moyers for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. McNeil (mcneilca@yahoo.com).