Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of Primary Care Physicians in the Franche-Comte Region (France) Regarding the Risk of Rabies

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Summary

Rabies remains a public health concern and is associated with a mortality rate of nearly 100%. An observational survey was undertaken in 2010 to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of primary care physicians (PCPs) in our area regarding the risk of rabies. Standardized questionnaires were sent to a random sample of 400 PCPs practicing in the Franche-Comté region (eastern France), requesting their voluntary and anonymous participation. The questionnaires requested socio-demographic details and self-evaluation. Seven clinical situations were selected to assess the attitudes of physicians. The response rate was 38.5%. Most of the PCPs were based in rural and semi-rural areas, 76% knew where their nearest rabies centre was located and 75% of them claimed their knowledge of the risk of rabies was poor. While most of them (>80%) knew which animals transmitted the disease as well as the severity criteria for bites, only 12% knew that there was no contraindication for the rabies vaccine in the event of exposure to the disease. Responses to the seven clinical situations showed that most of them did not know the precise indication for the rabies vaccine and rabies immunoglobulin. Primary care physicians are usually aware of the risk of rabies, but their knowledge of how to manage rabies exposure and prevention often requires updating. The health authorities should provide more detailed information to PCPs and to the general population about the risk of rabies.

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