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Epidemiology of urban dog-related injuries requiring rabies post-exposure prophylaxis in Marseille, France

Abstract : Dog bites are a serious public health concern. Besides injuries and the adverse psychological impacts, dog bites can be complicated by infections including rabies, which has the highest case-fatality rate of all infectious diseases. 1 The last case of human rabies acquired in mainland France was reported in 1924 and the last case of fox rabies in 1998. However, rabid dogs are repeatedly imported into France by travelers, with the majority originating from Morocco after having been transported through Spain by car. 2–6 The decision to prescribe rabies vaccine and/or rabies immunoglobulin to patients injured by dogs depends on the origin of the animal. Over-prescription of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) has been questioned in France. 7 In Marseille, efforts to minimize over-prescription of the vaccination for rabies PEP has been conducted, by delaying the initiation of rabies treatment in injuries involving an apparently healthy dog that can be kept under observation. 8 However, significant numbers of rabies PEP vaccinations are still given to injured patients due to the high proportion of dogs that cannot be kept under observation. In this context, interventions aimed at reducing the number of dog bites are critical. The reduction of dog-related injuries by educational interventions has shown some success in children, 9,10 although this has been contradicted. 11 As a first step towards the possible implementation of such a strategy in Marseille, we conducted a preliminary survey to describe the epidemiology of dog-related injuries requiring rabies PEP in the city. 2. Materials and methods From 2007 to 2010, epidemiological data on dog-related injuries and associated rabies PEP treatment were prospectively collected from patients attending the Marseille rabies treatment center (RTC) using standardized forms. At the Marseille RTC, Background: Dog bites are a serious public health concern. Besides injuries and the adverse psychological impacts, dog bites can be complicated by infections including rabies, which has the highest case-fatality rate of all infectious diseases. Methods: Dog-associated injuries occurring in the city of Marseille, France were investigated in 245 individuals among patients presenting to the rabies treatment center over a 4-year period. Results: Male patients were more likely to report dog bites compared to female patients (66.5% vs. 33.5%; odds ratio 2.25, 95% confidence interval 1.72–2.93). The mean age of injured patients was 32 years (range 1–85 years). Children and young adults under 30 years of age were more than four times more likely to report dog bites compared to others. Most cases occurred outdoors (73.0%) – in public areas (38.0%) – and involved animals of unknown owners in 56.3% of the cases. Only 28.2% of dogs were available for observation. Most patients (63.7%) received complete rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. The distribution of dog bites in the city was not homogeneous and the incidence of bites was significantly higher in some areas. Eleven percent of patients declared having been bitten by dogs whose owner was a street beggar, and a clustered distribution was evidenced for these cases in one area of the city. Conclusions: Programs offering low-cost rabies vaccination and veterinary care to pets belonging to the group of street beggars should be considered. Such programs may be implemented in other large cities in France and Europe where street beggars are frequently seen. ß
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Philippe Gautret, Sèverine Le Roux, Benoıt Faucher, Jean Gaudart, Philippe Brouqui, et al.. Epidemiology of urban dog-related injuries requiring rabies post-exposure prophylaxis in Marseille, France. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, Elsevier, 2013, ⟨10.1016/j.ijid.2012.09.011⟩. ⟨hal-01307685⟩

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