Tamil Nadu continues to hold high record of rabies deaths

Every year in India, 10 per cent of rabies deaths occur due to incomplete vaccination.

Chennai: Despite efforts put in by a number of NGOs, health officials and veterinary doctors to combat rabies, Tamil Nadu continues to be recognised as one of the states with the highest records of rabies deaths. “Approximately 100 people in the state die due to rabies each year,” said Dr. Bhaskar Raju, Consulting Pediatrician, adding, “The actual incidence may be more as not all cases are recorded.”

“Though the numbers are still high, the cases are much less than around five years back,” said Arun Prasanna, founder and secretary, People for Cattle in India. India records the highest cases of deaths due to rabies each year (20,000) and doctors blame the excess of stray dogs as the main cause.

“The government should take the initiative to immunize the street dogs. If a dog in one area develops rabies, it may pass it on to all the other dogs in the area,” said Dr Raju.

According to available records, it has been found that Chennai alone has around one-lakh dogs. “If the corporation has no interest in saving the dogs, they should at least show some interest in saving the humans as they are the ones most affected,” said Prasanna

“Children below 15 years of age are at a higher risk of developing rabies (50 per cent),” said Dr. Shafi Kolhapure, GM-Medical Affairs, GSK Biologicals, India. “All dogs should be routinely vaccinated to eradicate rabies,” he added. “With an aim to eradicate rabies, the Corporation plans to follow the ‘One Health Programme’, which is based on a method followed in Nilgiris, which now boasts of being free from dog rabies,” said a senior health official.

Rabies, which spreads when the saliva of an infected animal enters the body through a bite or a scratch, travels from the wound to the brain where it causes inflammation. Therefore, death due to the disease is virtually inevitable.
“Another major reason for rabies deaths is the myths that go along with it, one of which is that ‘not all five rabies shots are necessary,’ ” said Dr. Kolhapure. He stated that one could be protected from rabies only through rabies vaccination, which is available, but has a low uptake.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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