TOP
Sunday,November 29,2020 14:43 PM

Rabies kills but can be controlled

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th July 2015 11:35 AM

"As we talk now, we have one classical case of rabies (in the ward). Unfortunately, we cannot save the life of this young lady at this stage" said a health worker from a health unit in Kotido on June 4, 2015.

Rabies kills but can be controlled

"As we talk now, we have one classical case of rabies (in the ward). Unfortunately, we cannot save the life of this young lady at this stage" said a health worker from a health unit in Kotido on June 4, 2015.

By Sam Okech

"As we talk now, we have one classical case of rabies (in the ward). Unfortunately, we cannot save the life of this young lady at this stage" said a health worker from a health unit in Kotido on June 4, 2015.

This statement has nothing to do with the competence of the professionals but all to do with the nature of the disease and its prevention measures.

The health worker was briefing a multidisciplinary and multinational team of professionals (veterinary and biomedical laboratory) from Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda and the United States of America.

They were on a study trip in Karamoja, among other places, to understand animal production systems, animal diseases, zoonoses (diseases that affect both humans and animals) and their impact on community livelihoods.

Rabies, a viral disease that affects both animals and humans, is a killer disease that has unfortunately received insufficient attention globally. It reportedly kills up to 55,000 humans every year (one person every ten minutes) in Africa and Asia alone where 95% of the cases occur! Uganda contributes to this statistic although we believe that due to poor reporting, misdiagnosis and other challenges, the entire magnitude of the burden is not documented.

Rabies is largely transmitted to humans through dog bites and kills mainly children in the rural areas of the country due to various reasons.

Children tend to interact with the dogs more closely than adults and are also prone to attack due to their naivety and failure to flee quickly from dangerous dogs. Rabies is sadly 100% fatal when clinical signs show - the disease is irreversible by any known human intervention once clinical signs of the disease show.

Usually at this stage the virus has found its way to the brain initially entering through the nerves at the bite wound. However, if a bitten person accesses post-exposure treatment soon after being bitten, the virus is arrested before it advances far from the point of entry hence significantly increasing the chances of survival.

In Kotido, up to twenty (20) dog bite cases were been reportedly seen in one day! This is alarming but the consolation is that not all dogs that bite humans are rabid. The good news about this killer disease is that it is controllable through a multifaceted intervention approaches: vaccination of dogs and cats, population control of stray dogs and cats, and community education.

A responsible member of the community should therefore contact their area veterinarian for guidance on when to vaccinate theirs and other dogs in the community. All humans at risk should also be vaccinated and given boosters regularly e.g. veterinarian professionals; animal handlers in security organisations, zoos, animal clinics and veterinary and animal science students. Community members should also report any animals behaving unusually to the nearest animal health worker for checking and follow-up.

When bitten by a suspected rabid animal or indeed by any dog or cat, one is advised to get as much information as possible about the animal and its vaccination record and volunteer it to the authorities or animal and human health workers. They should also clean the wound with clean water and soap or antiseptic besides other first aid measures and immediately report to the nearest health unit for appropriate medical attention.

Obtaining animal vaccination record is important for guiding the medical worker choice of treatment protocol so as to save the life of a dog bite victim. Such information is also useful to the veterinarian’s follow-up protocol for the dog in question.

The embarrassing thing about Rabies is that it can be controlled and yet it still ranks high on the list of globally neglected killer zoonotic diseases! It is known that controlling it at the animal level eliminates cases in humans. What can you and I do about it?
 

Rabies kills but can be controlled

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author