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Animal Bite and Rabies Surveillance in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 2019

Hutko, S. Grace (2021) Animal Bite and Rabies Surveillance in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 2019. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Background: Animal bites represent a public health concern because they may result in injury and infection. Of particular interest is rabies. The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) receives reports on animal bites and investigates them to prevent adverse outcomes, recommending treatment with post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if necessary and quarantining animals if possible.
Methods: Animal bite data gathered from healthcare providers and police officers are entered into an Oracle database. Data for bites occurring in 2019 were exported from the Oracle (Redwood Shores, CA) database to an Excel file and imported into SAS (Cary, NC) for data cleaning. SAS was used to generate descriptive statistics. Population data was obtained from the US Census Bureau to calculate incidence rates per 100,000 population. County license statistics were obtained from the Allegheny County Treasurer’s Office to ascertain the dog breeds involved in bite reports. Rabies testing data from Rhode Island was obtained from the Rhode Island Department of Health.
Results: In 2019, there were 2,051 animal bites reported to the ACHD. Most reported bites involved dogs (72.2%) or cats (24.1%). The most common wild animals were bats (0.9%) and raccoons (0.6%). Bite reports peaked in the spring and summer and nadired during the winter months. Victims ranged in age from less than one year to 99 years of age. Bite rates per 100,000 were highest in people between 20-29 years of age; 61% of victims were female. The majority of bites were to upper extremities (66%). Antibiotics were prescribed for 62.1% of bite victims and 4.2% received post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for rabies. Most who received PEP (81.4%) did so because the animal could not be observed. 576 animals were submitted for rabies testing in Allegheny County; 28 (4.5%) tested positive. 688 animals were submitted for rabies testing in Rhode Island; 31 (4.9%) tested positive.
Conclusion: Ongoing rabies surveillance is essential to public health. The data collected from 2019 shows that state vaccination requirements work. The vector of greatest risk to humans is wild animals. Rabies prevention efforts should focus on wild animals in addition to rabies vaccination of domestic animals.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hutko, S. Gracesgh34@pitt.edusgh34
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberSaladino, RichardSALADIR@upmc.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberBrungo, Laurenlauren.brungo@alleghenycounty.usUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date: 10 February 2021
Date Type: Completion
Number of Pages: 46
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2021 16:06
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2023 06:15

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