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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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Survey seeks to learn about racehorse aftercare

News Story 1
 The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is launching a survey to improve understanding of aftercare for thoroughbreds. The survey has been emailed to trainers, who are asked to share their own experiences, with a focus on life after horses finish their racing careers. It forms part of an equine health and welfare strategy being developed by the BHA. 

News Shorts
Charity welcomes new ambassadors

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has appointed the actor Anthony Head and renowned canine behaviourist, Sarah Fisher, as official ambassadors. They join existing ambassadors Paul O’Grady, Amanda Holden, David Gandy and Jacqueline Wilson.

Anthony is best known for his roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Iron Lady and Girlfriends. He has previously lent his voice to Battersea’s videos and appeals, as well as performing readings at the charity’s Christmas Carol Concert and Collars & Coats Gala Ball.

Meanwhile Sarah has worked across all three of the charity’s centres, offering advice in dealing with a variety of complex and challenging dogs. She has also fostered several Battersea animals and trained many members of staff in using the Tellington Touch method of training, to keep dogs calm and relaxed.