Regional Variation in Pig Farmer Awareness and Actions Regarding Japanese Encephalitis in Nepal

Implications for Public Health Education

Citation: Dhakal S, Joshi DD, Ale A, Sharma M, Dahal M, et al. (2014) Regional Variation in Pig Farmer Awareness and Actions Regarding Japanese Encephalitis in Nepal: Implications for Public Health Education. PLoS ONE 9(1): e85399. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085399
Published: January 9, 2014

Pig with pigletJapanese encephalitis (JE) is a mosquito-borne zoonotic disease that has pigs as the major amplifying hosts. It is the most important cause of viral encephalitis in people in Nepal and is spreading in its geographic distribution in that country. Pig farming is increasing in Nepal due to reducing cultural biases against pigs and government programs to support pig farming for poverty alleviation. Major strategies for JE prevention and control include education, vector control, and immunization of people and pigs. This study used a survey of 400 pig farmers in 4 areas of Nepal with different JE and pig farming histories to explore regional variations in farmer awareness and actions towards JE, the association of awareness and actions with farm and farmer variables, and the implications of these associations for public health education. Exposure to JE risk factors was common across pig farms and pig farming districts but there were significant district level differences in knowledge and practices related to on-farm JE risk reduction. Social factors such as literacy, gender, and cultural practices were associated with farmer attitudes, knowledge and practices for JE control. JE vaccine uptake was almost non-existent and mosquito control steps were inconsistently applied across all 4 districts. Income was not a determining factor of the differences, but all farmers were very poor. The low uptake of vaccine and lack of infrastructure or financial capacity to house pigs indoors or away from people suggest that farmer personal protection should be a priority target for education in Nepal. This study re-enforces the need to attack root causes of people’s personal disease prevention behaviours and take into account local variation in needs and capacities when designing health or agriculture education programs.

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