Haiti has the highest human rabies burden in the Western Hemisphere. There is no published literature describing the public's perceptions of rabies in Haiti, information that is critical to developing effective interventions and government policies. We conducted a knowledge, attitudes and practices survey of 550 community members and 116 health professionals in Pétionville, Haiti in 2013 to understand the perception of rabies in these populations. The majority of respondents (85%) knew that dogs were the primary reservoir for rabies, yet only 1% were aware that bats and mongooses could transmit rabies. Animal bites were recognized as a mechanism of rabies transmission by 77% of the population and 76% were aware that the disease could be prevented by vaccination. Of 172 persons reporting a bite, only 37% sought medical treatment. The annual bite incidence rate in respondents was 0·9%. Only 31% of bite victims reported that they started the rabies vaccination series. Only 38% of respondents reported that their dog had been vaccinated against rabies. The majority of medical professionals recognized that dogs were the main reservoir for rabies (98%), but only 28% reported bats and 14% reported mongooses as posing a risk for rabies infection. Bites were reported as a mechanism of rabies transmission by 73% of respondents; exposure to saliva was reported by 20%. Thirty-four percent of medical professionals reported they would wash a bite wound with soap and water and 2·8% specifically mentioned rabies vaccination as a component of post-bite treatment. The majority of healthcare professionals recommended some form of rabies assessment for biting animals; 68·9% recommended a 14-day observation period, 60·4% recommended a veterinary consultation, and 13·2% recommended checking the vaccination status of the animal. Fewer than 15% of healthcare professionals had ever received training on rabies prevention and 77% did not know where to go to procure rabies vaccine for bite victims. Both study populations had a high level of knowledge about the primary reservoir for rabies and the mode of transmission. However, there is a need to improve the level of knowledge regarding the importance of seeking medical care for dog bites and additional training on rabies prevention for healthcare professionals. Distribution channels for rabies vaccines should be evaluated, as the majority of healthcare providers did not know where rabies vaccines could be obtained. Canine rabies vaccination is the primary intervention for rabies control programmes, yet most owned dogs in this population were not vaccinated.
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