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Rabies kills 59,000 people annually: WHO

Mass vaccinations of dogs, which transmit 95 per cent of rabies cases to humans, can eliminate the disease

Business Standard 

Delta Shelter home, Dog
Photo: Delta Shelter Home, Michigan (Facebook)

Rabies, passed to humans primarily through dog bite, is always fatal by the time its symptoms show up but is entirely preventable.

Washing wounds thoroughly with soap and water after a bite is an effective way of preventing infection, while both pre-exposure and post-exposure vaccinations for humans exist. Mass vaccinations of dogs, which transmit 95 per cent of cases to humans, can eliminate the disease.

An estimated 59,000 people die from across the world each year, according to the World Organization (WHO), with around 90 per cent of these among children in rural areas of Africa and Asia. In India alone, WHO estimates human deaths each year from ranges from 18,000 to 20,000. Many of these are children, often dying outside of medical facilities — meaning, their deaths go unrecorded. 

The figure could be exaggerated. But, it does not excuse the fact that states report a number of documented deaths because of "The elimination of in India is daunting but not impossible," Reeta Mani, associate professor of the National Institute of Mental & Neurosciences, told WHO.

Rabies kills 59,000 people annually: WHO

"Control of canine through vaccination and dog birth control is imperative, although with 25 million stray in the country, this is a formidable task."
The Institute of Animal and Veterinary Biologicals in Palode, Thiruvananthapuram, is working on an indigenously developed vaccine, which should be ready in two years. Once ready, it can be bought by governments all over India and, hopefully, death from will become history.

Data: National Profile 2017, produced by the ministry of health, Government of India 
Source: Media reports and WHO

First Published: Sun, November 19 2017. 22:17 IST