Imperative of Ending Rabies
The importance of dogs as domestic animals cannot be over emphasized.
Out of all animals, dogs serve as man’s greatest companion and are also used for hunting and security purposes.
Because of this closeness to man, they serve as agents of disease transmission, such as rabies, ringworm, tapeworm and parasitic skin infection caused by hookworm larvae that usually infest cats, dogs and other animals.
The most dreadful of these diseases, however, is rabies.
Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain in humans and other mammals.
The symptoms include violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, fear of water, inability to move parts of the body, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
Once symptoms appear, the result is nearly always death
A rabied dog bites an average of ten to twenty animals or humans before being killed.
Globally, the disease accounts for fifty nine thousand deaths annually, making it a persistent endemic problem.
It is disheartening however that despite the fact that it is endemic, the true picture of the disease burden is unknown probably due to under reporting.
According to a principal researcher, National Veterinary Research Institute, Dr Ibikunle Faramade, between 1928 and now, more than five thousand cases of animal rabbies have been diagnosed at the institute.
However, reports on rabies in Nigeria to the international community is low.
For instance, from 1992 to 1998, Nigeria only submitted report on rabies once to the World Health Organization and the pattern has remained the same till date.
Importantly, animal disease reporting mechanism should be completely overhauled to generate reliable animal disease data including rabies and to facilitate adequate planning, prevention and control of diseases.
It is therefore imperative to immediately report incidences of dog bites at veterinary hospitals for prompt treatment.
The theme for this year’s World Rabbies Day celebration, “End Rabbies, Vaccinate, Eliminate Rabbies Transmission Cycle” is apt as it would help to raise awareness about the disease and to highlight progress made so far in defeating it.
28 September also marks the anniversary of Louis Pasteur’s death, the French chemist and microbiologist, who developed the first rabies vaccine.
In view of the danger rabies pose to public health, there is need to make vaccination of all domestic animals mandatory while also checking the increasing population of stray dogs in the country.
Also, subsidizing vaccines for rabies would go a long way in encouraging more people to vaccinate their dogs
Commendably, the passage of amended dog bill into law by the Oyo State House of Assembly is a step in the right direction.
It is hoped that when the bill is signed into law and implemented, the menace of rabies would be effectively tackled.
Moreover, the department of veterinary services across the country should be strengthened with adequate personnel and equipment.
For instance, there are only thirteen veterinary officers in Oyo State managing animal health service delivery in the thirty three local government and local council development areas.
This is grossly inadequate.
To achieve the sustainable development goal of ending rabies by 2030 globally, there is need for all stakeholders to collaborate in this regard.