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Wednesday,November 25,2020 07:45 AM

Rabies on the increase

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th April 2002 03:00 AM

Moreover, rabies is the only disease that once the symptoms appear, the patient has to die

Moreover, rabies is the only disease that once the symptoms appear, the patient has to die

By Charles Wendo Recently an elderly woman in Tororo died of rabies yet her life could have been saved if her district had stocked rabies vaccine as required. A rabid dog bit her at night and by the time she reached Kampala for treatment, it was too late. According to reports from the Ministry of Health, every month hundreds of people get bitten by suspected rabid dogs countrywide. For instance 39 districts reported cases of dog bites during the week ending March 17, 2002. Rabies is a viral disease that affects mostly flesh-eating animals such as dogs, cats, jackals, foxes and lions. Rabid dogs usually run menacingly from village to village, biting every person, animal or object they come across. A rabid dog will not even fear an elephant. A normal dog bitten by a rabid dog also becomes rabid. In the saliva of a rabid dog, the rabies virus lives abundantly in the saliva of a rabid dog. When the dog bites a human being, the virus enters through the wound. Slowly, the virus creeps upwards through the nerves, to the brain. Once the virus reaches the brain, the symptoms begin to show. Moreover, rabies is the only disease that once the symptoms appear, the patient has to die. Even with ebola, though there is no cure some people recover naturally. But no one ever recovers from rabies. The incubation period is between two and eight weeks but rarely does the victim become ill within a week or in several months after the bite. The closer the bite is to the head, the shorter the incubation period. By the time you become ill the bite wound might have healed, but it begins to itch and pain all over again. This is followed by fever and headache. The victim feels generally uncomfortable and behaves strangely. Later he becomes aggressive and the face shows signs of extreme fright, with the eyes wide open. Typically, rabies patients fear water. Doctors say the first treatment for a person who has been bitten by a rabid dog is to immediately wash the wound vigorously with warm water and soap. Then apply disinfectant such as iodine or alcohol. After this first aid, the person should be rushed to hospital to get an anti-rabies vaccine. The earlier the vaccine is given, the higher the chances of survival. The National Medical Stores (NMS) public relations officer, Milton Kamoti, says their reserve in Entebbe has sufficient doses to meet the country’s needs. The Ministry of Health meets the cost on behalf of the districts on requisition. However, health ministry sources say that more than 10 districts do not take trouble to stock the rabies vaccine. Before they get fresh allocations, districts are expected to account for doses previously given to them. This appears to be the source of problems. Dr. Sam Okware, the commissioner for community health, says District Directors of Health Services should always make sure that they stock rabies vaccines so that people who are bitten by rabid dogs do not have to travel all the way to Kampala. “We are going to have a programme to educate them,” he said. The assistant commissioner for veterinary public health, Dr. Winyi Kaboyo, says that in addition, private and NGO hospitals are encouraged to stock the vaccine. Kaboyo also says all Ugandans should ensure that their dogs are vaccinated against rabies every year. A law exists to this effect but it is never implemented. How to prevent/ treat rabies - Vaccinate your dogs against rabies annually. - If a dog bites you, immediately wash the wound with plenty of water and soap. Scrub thoroughly. Then apply iodine or alcohol. If you cannot find industrial disinfectant apply local Waragi. - Seek immediate medical attention.

Rabies on the increase

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