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Public education key to preventing spread of disease - study
Infectious diseases pose a considerable threat to human health.
Researchers assess effect of rabies awareness campaign

The spread of infectious diseases can be prevented by increased public awareness, according to new research.

In a collaborative study, researchers assessed the effectiveness of a simple public health campaign for rabies. They found that not only did the campaign improve knowledge of rabies, but it also meant that people were more likely to get their dogs vaccinated.

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Surrey, the APHA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Azerbaijan Republican Veterinary Laboratory and State Veterinary Service, and Washington State University.

“Infectious diseases pose a considerable threat to human health and place an enormous economic burden on health care systems,” explained Dr Dan Horton, lecturer in veterinary virology at the University of Surrey. “This research shows that even a simple public awareness campaign can have a positive effect. The results have potential impact for other diseases and other countries in the region.”

In the study, researchers distributed posters, leaflets and text messages to increase awareness and understanding of rabies in Azerbaijan - a country where the disease is considered endemic but public knowledge is variable.  

To assess the effectiveness of the campaign, the researchers worked with 600 targeted households and households from two districts who had not received any information on rabies.

They found that the campaign was both effective in raising awareness of the disease and meant that more people were likely to vaccinate their pets. Interestingly, their study revealed that most people favoured face-to-face information over information obtained through social media.

The study, Assessing the impact of public education on a preventable zoonotic disease: rabies, is published in the journal Epidemiology & Infection.

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”