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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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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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News Shorts
Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.