Low awareness about rabies puts people at risk

TRICHY: Though the state government has initiated a lot of schemes in the health sector, poor awareness among people about the serious consequences of rabies has put them in risk.

65-year-old Soosairaj was the latest victim of rabies. Soosairaj was bitten by his pet dog three months back but he failed to consult a doctor immediately.

While the health wing of the Trichy Corporation was yet to conclude whether the dog was infected with rabies, animal welfare activists blame the people for not protecting their pet dogs from getting affected by the deadly virus.

“It is the duty of people to vaccinate their pet dogs with rabies veterinary vaccine (RRV) once in a year either in the government-run veterinary hospital or in private clinics. Only 20 % of the owners are prompt in vaccinating their pet dogs. Rest of them are never bothered it, making their pet dogs susceptible to rabies attack,” president of FAITH Trust G Ramakrishan said.

Being a welfare association for the dogs, FAITH Trust vaccinates around 75 dogs yearly, he claimed. He also said that they also did mercy killing of rabies affected dogs in a legal way and suggested to provide tokens to all the pet dogs to check whether they were vaccinated.

“Our organization gave a suggestion to the corporation last year to issue tokens to all the vaccinated dogs so that they can identify the non-vaccinated pet dogs. But it was not implemented,” Ramakrishnan said.

In Trichy district, there are around 6,000, dogs including stray dogs and pet dogs. The Trichy Corporation carries out sterilization and rabies vaccination for stray dogs. However, their drive has not covered all the stray dogs due to reasons best known to them.

A senior official in the animal husbandry department on the condition of anonymity said their department was allotted around 1,000 doses to 1,200 doses of RVV to their clinics in Trichy per year. But the entire population could not be covered with the minimum quantity of vaccine.

“A very small number of people are coming to veterinary poly clinics to get their pet dogs vaccinated. The stock with us is enough to vaccinate them only. However, we are ready to depute our veterinary doctors if any voluntary organizations conduct camps for vaccination,” said the official.

On the other hand, people also were not bothered about the bite of their pet dogs. City health officer (CHO) Dr M Geetharani advised such people to visit their urban health posts (UHPs) immediately for ARV. “ARV is available in all the nine UHPs and people can make use of it to save them from serious consequences of dog bites,” she told TOI.

Date: 7/10/2015