Rabies vaccination status among occupationally exposed humans in Nigeria
Rabies virus, a bullet-shaped enveloped negative sense single stranded RNA virus, often carries death sentence once clinical manifestations commenced in humans and animals. Pre- and post-exposure vaccinations against the virus have long been in existence to protect humans, especially occupationally exposed such as workers in rabies laboratories, veterinary hospitals and clinics, wildlife rehabilitation centers and animal shelters. The need to receive this vaccination especially rabies pre-exposure vaccination becomes more important in endemic countries in accordance with Advisory Committee on Immunization Practise (ACIP). This study surveyed rabies vaccination status of occupationally exposed humans in Nigeria. The reasons adduced for unvaccination were also reported. Structured questionnaire were administered to veterinarians during the annual conference of Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) and the Continuous Education programme of Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN) in 2016 while others were administered at some wildlife facilities and animal shelters in Nigeria. Data were entered into SPSS version 23 for statistical analysis. Vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals were compared using univariate and logistic regression analyses to identify factors associated with vaccination status at α 0.05 level of significance. Out of 250 questionnaires administered to veterinarians, wildlife managers and dog breeders (Group A) and 120 questionnaires administered to workers in veterinary practice, animal shelter & zoo garden/wildlife parks (Group B), only 155 and 83 questionnaires respectively were eligible and complete for analysis. The result obtained showed that 61.3% (95/155) and 85.5% (71/ 83%) of Group A and Group B respectively had not received pre-exposure rabies vaccination. Results of univariate analyses showed that health insurance were significantly associated with vaccination status in Group A and B while age was significantly associated with vaccination status for Group A only. This study showed that large number of occupational exposed humans did not receive rabies pre-exposure vaccination despite their frequent exposure to rabies sources (both domesticated and wild animals). Various impeding factors such as unavailability of rabies vaccines in the hospital, cost of vaccination, inadequate knowledge about rabies and its vaccination among other factors were presented and these should be taken seriously by both government and non-governmental organizations to ensure safety of this group of people.
Keywords: Rabies, Vaccination, Nigeria, Occupationally exposed humans