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.
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.