By Michael Odeng
Every dog has its day, they say. Well, the dogs and cats of Mbuya community belonging to low-income earners who can hardly afford to pay for their vaccination had theirs on Monday.
In a key drive aimed at saving human lives from deadly bites, the canines and cats were vaccinated against rabies.
Over 200 animals received medical treatment in a campaign spearheaded by the Uganda Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (USPCA) at Mbuya center in Kampala.
Scores of Mbuya, Gizza and Mutungo residents thronged the center with their dogs and cats for vaccination, deworming, spraying and castration.
36 male and 20 female animals were sterilized to prevent them from reproducing and therefore bring down the birth rates.
The huge turn-up was overwhelming as the 80 units of rabies vaccine, 88 units of deworming medical liquids and sprayers almost ran out.
“The pet owners responded positively to our call,” says Elke Van Gelder, USPCA field officer, adding that the campaign will always be done at least once in a year.
Elke said that the programme is the most effective way to reduce the risk of rabies which kills some 50,000 people every year.
“Worldwide, dog bites are the cause of almost all human rabies deaths, with a much smaller number of cases occurring each year from other domestic and wild animals, including bats.”
“We have all the tools to eliminate rabies but it’s an uphill battle to bring the disease into the limelight, and to initiate and sustain large-scale regional rabies elimination programmes,” she added.
USPCA manager, Alex Ochieng said that many people around the community have died of rabies from dog bites, adding that they receive over five cases of dog and cat bites every month.
He added that most such victims are school-going children.
USPCA’s senior vet, Dr. Alex Great Mugisa said that a person or animal contracts rabies from the bites of an infected animal, especially a cat, dog or wild carnivores like jackals and foxes – and sometimes bats.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, then the brain and ultimately leads to a deadly end.
Early symptoms of the disease in victims include fever, headache, and general weakness. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear – anxiety, hallucinations, increase in saliva, partial paralysis and fear of water.
Death usually occurs within the days of the onset of these symptoms.