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Reported animal exposures and rabies testing in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania 2013-2014

Steider, Katie J. (2015) Reported animal exposures and rabies testing in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania 2013-2014. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Rabies prevention is a local, national, and global public health concern. As rabies is essentially fatal once symptoms develop, the prevention and proper treatment of high-risk animal exposures (e.g. bites, scratches) is of paramount importance. Therefore, healthcare practitioners in Allegheny County are required to report all animal bites within 24 hours to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) Infectious Diseases (ID) Program. Animal exposure information collected on an Animal Bite Report (ABR) form and results from rabies testing at the ACHD Public Health Lab are used to assess the risk of rabies and advise victims on proper care. The objective of this study is to summarize information about animal exposures reported to ID from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014 and results from rabies testing conducted during the same time period. Information from ABR forms and rabies testing lab slips for incidents occurring from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014 was extracted from a database and analyzed using Microsoft Excel 2010. Records from the ACHD Public Health Lab were reviewed for rabies testing information. During the study period, 3,693 animal exposures were reported to ID. The highest number of exposures occurred during the summer months. Over half (58.4%) of all incidents involved female victims. All age groups were affected but most victims (89.5%) were younger than 65: 20.0% of victims were 0-14 years old, 32.4% were 15-34 years old, and 24.5% were 35-54 years old. The majority of incidents involved pets (76.4%) with 68.3% of incidents involving dogs and 24.4% of incidents involving cats. The ACHD Public Health Lab tested 1,553 animals during the study period; 34 from Allegheny County tested positive for rabies. The majority of rabies positive animals were bats (50.0%) and raccoons (29.4%). This information can be used in the development of public health messages specific to Allegheny County, which supports the public health significance of this study. Several potential messages and interventions are described as well as suggested improvements for the reporting system.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Steider, Katie J.kjs105@pitt.eduKJS105
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMartinson, Jeremy J.jmartins@pitt.eduJMARTINS
Committee MemberKingsley, Lawrence A.kingsley@pitt.eduKINGSLEY
Committee MemberMertz, Kristen J.kjm40@pitt.eduKJM40
Date: 11 June 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 13 April 2015
Approval Date: 11 June 2015
Submission Date: 7 April 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 66
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: rabies, rabies prevention, rabies testing, animal bite, animal exposure
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2015 16:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:27


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