Investigation to determine staff exposure and describe animal bite surveillance after detection of a rabid zebra in a safari lodge in Kenya, 2011
Published Date:Sep 07 2014
Source:Pan Afr Med J. 2014; 19.
Rabies is a fatal viral infection, resulting in >55,000 deaths globally each year. In August 2011, a young orphaned zebra at a Kenyan safari lodge acquired rabies and potentially exposed >150 tourists and local staff. An investigation was initiated to determine exposures among the local staff, and to describe animal bite surveillance in the affected district.
We interviewed lodge staff on circumstances surrounding the zebra's illness and assessed their exposure status. We reviewed animal bite report forms from the outpatient department at the district hospital.
The zebra was reported bitten by a dog on 31st July 2011, became ill on 23rdAugust, and died three days later. There were 22 employees working at the lodge during that time. Six (27%) had high exposure due to contact with saliva (bottle feeding, veterinary care) and received four doses of rabies vaccine and one of immune-globulin, and 16 (73%) had low exposure due to casual contact and received only four doses of rabies vaccine. From January 2010 to September 2011, 118 cases of animal bites were reported in the district; 67 (57%) occurred among males, 65 (57%) in children <15 years old, and 61 (52%) were inflicted in a lower extremity. Domestic and stray dogs accounted for 98% of reported bites.
Dog bites remains the main source of rabies exposure in the district, but exposure can result from wildlife. This highlights the importance of a one health approach with strong communication between wildlife, veterinary, and human health sectors to improve rabies prevention and control.
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