High-school education raises rabies awareness

Sancheti, P., & Mangulikar, S. (2016). An interventional study to assess knowledge regarding rabies in secondary school students. International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health, 3(1), 180–183.

School children under 15 years old have been identified as being most vulnerable to contracting rabies. This study showed that this risk can be lowered by teaching them specific rabies-health classes to raise their knowledge of this deadly disease.

This study was carried out on 140 students (aged 13-15) in the Sholapur area of India where rabies is still prevalent. Students were questioned before and after receiving a rabies-health education class and the results were compared. The questionnaires assessed general knowledge of rabies; including its source and transmission, prevention of dog bites, and bite wound treatment.  

Rabies transmission and dog-bite treatments

Overall, the students’ knowledge was deemed inadequate prior to health education, but it increased significantly afterwards. For example, before the class, the students’ knowledge of how rabies is transmitted was low (37%), however this almost doubled to (71%) after education. And, despite the fact that the majority (86%) of students were aware that rabies could be transmitted via dog-bites, their knowledge of dog-bite wound treatment was lacking. For instance, prior to the class two-thirds of the students believed that bite wounds could be treated with local remedies such as turmeric, oil and chuna. However, this fell considerably to just 16% after education. Additionally, students were also more aware of the availability of post-exposure vaccines for humans and preventative vaccines for dogs following the health class. 

With this significant increase in knowledge and awareness of rabies amongst the students, the authors concluded that heath education for children is an effective way to raise awareness of rabies, to help prevent dog bites and to reduce the spread of rabies.

World Animal Protection’s view 

World Animal Protection works closely with local groups to ensure vaccination programmes are accompanied by education on rabies and dog management. This doesn’t just benefit people, it also helps dogs; education changes people’s attitudes and behaviour towards dogs, leading to improvements in dog welfare