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Vietnam is a rabies-endemic country where eating dog meat is customary. However, the risks of rabies transmission to dog slaughtering and processing workers have not been identified. This study aimed to determine the rabies neutralizing antibody (NTA) and risk factors in dog slaughterers to propose appropriate intervention methods for this occupational group. In 2016, a cross-sectional study on NTA against rabies virus and related factors was conducted among 406 professional dog slaughterers in Vietnam. The participants were interviewed using a structured questionnaire, and their sera were tested for rabies NTA by a rapid focus fluorescence inhibition test. Statistical algorithms were used to analyze the data. The results showed that most of the professional dog butchers (344/406 subjects, 84.7%) had no rabies NTA. Interestingly, 7.8% (29/373) had NTA without a rabies vaccination history. Over 5 years of experience as a dog butcher was positively associated with the presence of NTA in unvaccinated individuals (OR = 6.16, P = 0.001). The NTA in vaccinated butchers was present in higher titer and for longer persistence to those of other previously reported professionals, which is possibly as a result of multiple exposures to low levels of rabies virus antigens during dog slaughtering. Our study demonstrated that professional dog butchers in Vietnam are at a high risk of rabies virus infection, apart from those with common bite experiences. In countries where dog meat consumption is customary, rabies control and prevention activities should focus on safety during dog trading and slaughtering.
Financial support: This work was financially supported by the Vietnam National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED) under grant number 106-YS.04-2014.04 and partly supported by grants-in-aid from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences (JSPS; No. 16777220).
Authors’ addresses: Anh Kieu Thi Nguyen, Department of Imaging, Diagnostics and Testing, Hanoi Center for Disease Control, Hanoi, Vietnam, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Anh Hoang Vu, Department of Malaria, Parasite and Vector Borne Diseases, Hanoi Center for Disease Control, Hanoi, Vietnam, E-mail: email@example.com. Thu Tuyet Nguyen, Dong Vinh Nguyen, and Giang Chau Ngo, Virology Department, National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Hanoi, Vietnam, E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. Thai Quang Pham, Department of Communicable Disease control, National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Hanoi, Vietnam, and Department of Biostatistics and Medical Information, IPMPH, Hanoi Medical University, Hanoi, Vietman, E-mail: email@example.com. Satoshi Inoue, Department of Veterinary Science, Japan National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Akira Nishizono, Microbiology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Oita University, Oita, Japan, E-mail: email@example.com.