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Free roaming dog population, community perception and control of dog related rabies: The Indian story

Tiwari, Harish Kumar (2019) Free roaming dog population, community perception and control of dog related rabies: The Indian story. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Most human deaths from rabies in India are caused by the bites of free roaming dogs (FRD), however studies on the demography of FRD and the community perception of rabies and FRD are virtually lacking in the country. This study was conducted in rural and urban India to: recommend a reliable enumeration method for FRD; describe the demography of FRD; assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of communities towards rabies and FRD; and assess the KAP of rural para-medical staff on dog-bite wound management.

The Application SuperDuplicates online tool was found to reliably enumerate the FRD population size with minimal resources. In the rural site fewer dogs were sighted within 20 metres of garbage points (OR 0.3) than more distant; while in the urban site more FRD were sighted near garbage points (OR 1.6) than away from these sites. The re-sight probability (β = 0.3) and de-sexing status (β = -0.07) of FRD had a positive and negative influence, respectively on urban FRD forming groups. The tendency to form groups in the rural FRD was influenced by frequency of being re-sighted (β = -0.1) and presence of garbage within 20m (β = 0.2). The FRD in the rural setting that were sighted in groups had a larger home-range (>0.11 ha) than those sighted alone (≤0.11 ha).

Rural respondents with a smaller family size (OR 2.1) were more knowledgeable about rabies, than those with bigger families and older respondents (OR 2.6) had a more positive attitude towards FRD than did younger respondents (<35 years). Urban respondents from high/middle socio-economic sections were more knowledgeable (OR 3.03) with positive attitudes and practices (OR 3.4) towards rabies than those from lower socio-economic sections. Urban households containing children (≤ 14 years) (OR 0.5) had a lower level of knowledge about rabies compared to households with older or no children. Experienced and graduate paramedical staff were more aware (OR 3.4) and adopted adequate practices (OR 5.6) regarding the management of dog-bite wounds than less experienced or non-graduate staff.

It is recommended that control of dog-related rabies in India requires: enumeration and interpretation of the demographic characteristics such as tendency to form groups and the spread of home ranges of FRD to strategically adopt mass-immunisation; concerted efforts to promote knowledge and adoption of healthier practices in rural communities; educational outreach directed towards the lower socio-economic sections in the urban community; and the development and implementation of compulsory training modules for rural paramedical staff on dog-bite wound management.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Veterinary Medicine
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Supervisor(s): Robertson, Ian, O'Dea, Mark and Vanak, Ami
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