Rabies is fatal, but entirely preventable… yet India accounts for one-third of all related deaths worldwide. Rabies is caused by a virus that is transmitted to humans through the infected saliva of a range of animals. But most human deaths follow a bite by, or exposure to, an infected dog. Between 30% and 60% of the victims of dog bites are children under the age of 15 in countries where rabies is endemic. The Maharishi Valmiki is the only hospital in the city of Delhi that treats rabies patients, many of whom are poor and uneducated and most of whom are children and young people.
However, it can be prevented if the protocols recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) are followed. The bite or scratch wound is to be washed properly, followed by the first shot of anti-rabies vaccine within the first 24 hours — the sooner the better. Severe cuts may require an added dose of anti-rabies serum, which works against the rabies virus before the vaccine’s effect kicks in. Though every bite does not lead to infection of rabies, this protocol must be applied every time there is a bite. Though simple, on the face of it, the protocols have a long way to go in terms of implementation. Below are some of key factors causing death ration this much higher in India.
- No awareness, no vaccines
- Cost Factor
- Lack of stock at government hospital
- Caring of Dogs
- Severity of the problem
Things become a little more complicated when the dog population gets out of hand, as is certainly the case in many parts of rural India. Estimates vary, but some put the Indian dog population as high as 25 million. Rounding up and vaccinating that many dogs is not just a technical challenge, it is a test of community spirit.
Considering the problem WWF is working with two strategies:
ANTI RABIES CAMPAIGN: Under this campaign we select some urban slums and our team visits to those places twice in a week to vaccinate & sterilisation of some numbers of stray dogs.
ANIMAL BIRTH CONTROL PROGRAM: During visits to slums for anti rabies campaign we maintain record of adult dogs and refer to Dr. Bharti, Veteran at to complete the process of ABC at hospital after deposit the applicable charges at Hospital.