African Health Sciences

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Stray dog trade fuelled by dog meat consumption as a risk factor for rabies infection in Calabar, southern Nigeria

EE Ekanem, KI Eyong, EE Philip-Ephraim, ME Eyong, EB Adams, AA Asindi


Background: Rabies is a preventable zoonosis with the highest case fatality of any disease in the world. In the developing world, it is transmitted mainly by dog bites. In parts of southern Nigeria, dog meat is a delicacy.
Objective: To highlight trade in stray dogs as a major risk factor for rabies in animals and humans in south-south Nigeria.
Method: Patients admitted into the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) with a diagnosis of rabies between July and October 2012 were analysed for risk factors, post exposure prophylaxis (PEP), health seeking behaviour and outcome. Focused group interview were also conducted among traders/ handlers of stray dogs.
Results: Ten cases of rabies in subjects aged 3 to 52 years were recorded in these five months period. Eight of the cases were male and apparently got infected directly or indirectly through the trade in stray dogs for human consumption. None had proper PEP and all patients died.
Conclusion: Stray dog trade, fuelled by eating of dog meat, is a risk factor for human and animal rabies in Calabar, southern Nigeria. Culling of stray dogs, control of stray dogs’ trade and public enlightenment on PEP is recommended.

African Health Sciences 2013; 13(4): 1170 - 1173
AJOL African Journals Online