Rage: facts, not fear | Cashmere amount

Posted on Sep 28, 2021 | Author DR. CHEIKH MOHD SALEEM


The global COVID-19 epidemic has created many misconceptions and questions regarding diseases, their transmission and vaccination in general. As a result, there has been considerable hesitation in several countries over the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, and many people are reluctant to get vaccinated. This is not new in the case of rabies, as concerns, misconceptions and misinformation about the disease and its prevention date back hundreds of years. As a result, this year’s theme focuses on spreading facts about rabies rather than fear of the disease through misinformation and misconceptions.

The facts are essential to increase awareness of the disease, reduce cases of rabies, vaccinate animals and educate people about the dangers of rabies and how to prevent it. We wouldn’t have evidence to inform decision-makers about the severity of the disease if we didn’t have the facts. We would be unable to fight for its abolition, and the impact of the disease would remain undetectable, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of humans and animals from rabies each year. Let’s use the information to promote awareness and educate others about rabies, a disease that is 99 percent fatal but 100 percent preventable.

In this year’s theme, the word “fear” has three interpretations. For example, it refers to the global fear induced by rabies, the terror that humans feel when encountering infected animals, and the fear that people live in areas infested with rabies. The second connotation is closely related to the dreaded symptom that people can experience when infected with rabies. Finally, dread refers to the fear generated by “fake news” or lies about rabies – fearful of vaccination, reluctant to have their animals sterilized or vaccinated, and believing in inadequate therapies for the disease.

Let’s get the facts straight about animal bites and rabies

The disease is caused by a deadly neurotropic virus of the genus Lysa virus, which belongs to the Rhabdoviridae family. The rabies virus is most often transmitted by bites from rabid animals in wounds or cuts in the skin and mucous membranes. The rabies virus is often found in the saliva of a rabid animal and is spread through the saliva of an animal to a human or from an animal to another animal.

The majority of animal bite incidents occur in urban areas and are caused by dog ​​bites. Rabies, which is widely transmitted through dog bites, is a disease of land and airborne mammals that affects dogs as well as wildlife such as lions, wolves, foxes, and jackals. It has also been detected in cats, monkeys and bats. Various studies have shown that the dog remains the main reservoir of rabies throughout the Asian continent, especially in India.

Dogs, especially street dogs, have always lived in harmony with the human population. Over the years, the street dog population has experienced a sudden increase which can be attributed to the availability of more food waste due to changing socio-economic status, population increase, l urbanization and lack of appropriate measures to control their population. Dogs are said to be the first domesticated animals due to their loyalty and amiable behavior.

The other side of the story is that these street dogs bite when provoked or, in rare cases, without any external trigger. These stories spark public outrage and spark heated debate. Dog bites are common these days, and they are a major public health problem in India. Some bites are minor (Category I) and do not require medical treatment, but many bites are serious (Categories II and III) and require emergency medical attention. Some may also require hospitalization. All of these circumstances place a burden on the health care system, the economic situation of the victim and usually add up to morbidity rates and lost work days.

Data in India show that 20 to 25,000 deaths are attributed to rabies, with 18 million exposures to animal bites each year. It has been estimated that without the recommended post-exposure prophylaxis, about 327,000 people die of rabies each year in Asia and Africa alone. Besides the threat to life and pain caused by animal bites, they can also lead to wound infections, disfigurement of body parts, disability and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

Author’s research results in the field of rabies

The results of the study entitled “Rising pattern, Seasonal predisposition and Trend analysis of Animal bite Cases Attending the Anti-rabies Clinic of a Tertiary Care Hospital” indicated that the frequency of animal bites (mainly dog ​​bite cases ) was less reported in winter. namely during the months of November, December, January and February, as most people stay indoors during the winter season. In addition, the frequency increases with the arrival of spring, that is to say the month of March. In addition, there is a reduction in animal bite cases during the rainy season, i.e. from April to May, and then the frequency of animal bite cases increases again in the year. during the month of June. After that, there is a slow decline in animal bite cases reported for the rest of the months. These results were based on the interpretation and analysis of 5-year data from Srinagar district.

In another study entitled, “Qualitative analysis of the perception of victims of street dog bites and implication for the prevention of dog bites in an anti-rabies clinic of a university hospital”. The authors found that victims of animal bites have sufficient knowledge that the bite, broken skin, and oozing blood are a serious concern and require treatment in hospital. The majority of other animal bite victims in the study did not blame the dog for the bite, the rather unsanitary conditions of the roads, the increase in the dog population, the indiscriminate dumping of household garbage on the streets and the ineffectiveness of the city department in removing the garbage piles from the streets as one reason for their dog bite incident.

Yet in another study, co-authored by the author titled “Enforcing Lockdown of COVID-19 and Reported Dog Bite Cases: An Experience from a Tertiary Rabies Center in North India.” The authors reported a decrease of just 28% in animal bite cases during the lockdown that was imposed from March 21, 2021 to June 3, 2020 and this can also be attributed to the fact that the movement of people has been restricted. during the lockdown, which resulted in a reduction in the number of human-dog interactions and decreased the number of dog bite cases.


• Disseminate information and education regarding human-dog interactions through mass media to reduce false beliefs and deeply held misconceptions about dogs. This should be done at regular intervals in the health facility and in public places through information, education and communication materials.

• Training of healthcare professionals on the proper management of animal bites and post-exposure rabies prophylaxis. In addition, facilities for washing animal bite cases in rabies clinics must be available and functional for bite victims.

• Strengthen the human rabies surveillance system and establish district rabies clinics in each district with trained staff.

• Strengthening of regional laboratories within the framework of the NRCP for the diagnosis of rabies.

• Raise awareness in the community through advocacy and communication and social mobilization.

• Local governments must step up to reduce the burden of stray dogs by catching them and then neutering them. They need to rehabilitate the dogs and build them dog shelters, so that the dogs live in their respective environment away from humans, which will ultimately reduce dog bites and rabies.

• Policy makers also need to recognize the problems associated with long-term sheltering of dogs in the first place. Internal dog rehabilitation training should be encouraged. Activities like supervised group play and socialization help reduce kennel stress, and we need to develop strategies to reduce pet overcrowding, promote adoption, and promote shorter stays in shelters.

On this Rabies Day, clarify the facts, because facts are the only way to defeat fake news, to help each other share accurate facts, and to make sure decisions about rabies control in your area are based. on the good and the most recent, information.

(The author is a public health specialist and can be contacted at [email protected])

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