Prevention educational program of human rabies transmitted by bats in rain forest preserved area of southern Brazilian coast.
Guaraqueçaba city is a rain forest environmental protected area located on the southern coast of Brazil. Recently, the local Animal Health Service has noticed haematophagous bats feeding from humans and domestic animals, as well as bat colonies located in houses and public schools. In 2007, two non-haematophagous bats were tested positive by direct immunofluorescence for rabies in a nearby city. Native fauna and environmental laws protect non-haematophagous bats in Brazilian preserved areas such as Guaraqueçaba, making non-haematophagous bat population control almost impossible. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to evaluate a simple and feasible educational protocol applied by a multi-institutional task force in local elementary schools to prevent rabies transmitted by bats. Information was transmitted to children by video, lectures and oral question-answer section; evaluation was made by written questionnaires to teachers and students. Interinstitutional task force included public and animal health public services, a federal university and the city secretary of environment, of education, of agriculture and of animal health, and also participation of local community. Information was effectively absorbed by children when evaluated just after being given. As important, questionnaires showed that handling and playing with bats at day time was common in several elementary school students, exposing themselves to what may represent higher risk of rabies transmission than haematophagous bat feeding directly from humans. Training of teachers and students may effectively prevent rabies by bats in such communities. Insertion of this subject into science content of local elementary school educational programme was proposed in order to establish a continuing education programme on rabies transmitted by bats in environmental preserved areas.