Determinants of health seeking behaviour following rabies exposure in Ethiopia

Beyene, T. J. and Mourits, M. C. M. and Revie, C. W. and Hogeveen, H. (2018) Determinants of health seeking behaviour following rabies exposure in Ethiopia. Zoonoses and Public Health, 65 (4). pp. 443-453. ISSN 1863-1959 (

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The objective of this study was to identify factors that determine medical treatment seeking behaviour following potential rabies exposure after being bitten by a suspected dog and the likelihood of compliance to receive sufficient doses of post-exposure prophylaxis after the visit to a health centre visit. A detailed survey based on case investigation was conducted on suspected rabid dog bite cases in three areas of Ethiopia. Two multivariable logistic regression models were created with a set of putative variables to explain treatment seeking and compliance outcomes. Based on the registered bite cases at each health centre and the set of unregistered bite cases derived by contact tracing, 655 bite victim cases were identified to have occurred between September 2013 and August 2014. Of these evaluated bite incidences, 465 cases were considered to have been caused by a potentially rabid dog. About 77% of these suspected rabid dog bite victims visited a health centre, while 57% received sufficient doses of PEP. The overall likelihood of seeking medical services following rabies exposure was higher for people bitten by dogs of unknown ownership, where the bite was severe, being bitten on the leg, spend of more than 100 USD per month and where the victim lived close to the nearest health centre, while the likelihood of receiving sufficient doses of PEP was sensitive to monthly spending and distance to health centre. However, the evaluated factors did only explain a part of the variation among the three districts. The district in which victims lived appeared to have a relevant influence on the likelihood of seeking medical treatment but did not improve the prediction on the likelihood of treatment compliance. Given the insights obtained from this study, improvements in the rural districts with regard to accessibility of post-exposure prophylaxis delivering health centres in shorter distance could improve health seeking behaviour. In addition, in rural districts, majority of exposed persons who seek medical treatment tend to comply with treatment regimen, indicating that the promotion of medical treatment through awareness creation campaigns could be beneficial.