News Analysis

Importance Of Vaccination Against Rabies

Rabies Is A Viral Ailment That Affects All Warm Blooded Animals.  

The Disease Is Endemic In Nigeria Resulting In The Death Of About 10,000 Victims Annually. On The Global Scene.

It Accounts For More Than 55,000 Deaths, Signalling The Disease As A Major Public Health Burden.

The First Reported Incidence Of Human Rabies Case In Nigeria Was Diagnosed In 1912 While Rabies In Dogs Was First Diagnosed In 1925 At Yaba Rabies Laboratory.

Dogs Are The Main Vectors Of Human Rabies Accounting For About 94% Of The Cases, Most Of Which Occur In The Rural And Peri-Urban Areas Where There Is Limited Access To Veterinary Services, Lack Of Prompt Diagnosis And Non-Existent Post Exposure Prophylaxis Leading To Increase Human Deaths.

Due To The Significance Of This Disease, In Terms Of High Level Of Fatality Despite The Fact That It Is 100% Preventable Through Vaccination, The Global Alliance For Rabies Control Has Been At The Forefront Of Campaign For The Elimination Of Rabies Worldwide And Hence Elimination Of Human Deaths Arising From The Disease By The Year 2030 In Line With The Sustainable Development Goals (Especially, Goal 3) As Enunciated By The United Nations In 2015.

This Is Why September 28 Is Celebrated Annually As “World Rabies Day” To Promote Activities That Would Eventually Lead To The Elimination Of The Disease Globally. The Day Is Also Used To Commemorate The Death Of Louis Pasteur, The Legendary Scientist Who Created A Vaccine Against Rabies.

The Theme Of This Year’s Event Is “Rabies: Facts Not Fear”. By This, It Is Envisioned That The Fear That Has Enveloped Our Communities And Individuals Arising From Misconceptions, Misinformation And Myths Associated With Rabies Would Be Demystified By The Promotion Of Scientific Facts Which If Properly Disseminated Among All And Sundry Would Lead To The Achievement Of A World Without The Misery Of Rabies.

Some Of The Facts Are As Follows: Rabies Disease Is Caused By A Germ Called Rabies Virus. “It Is Not A Spiritual Attack”

Rabies Virus Is Not A Poison That Could Be Neutralised By Any Antidote. It Is A Virus That Attaches Itself To The Nerve.

Bats Are The Reservoirs Of Rabies Disease. Dogs Become Infected Through Complex Epidemiological Interactions. Dogs Are The Major Source Of Infection To Man And Other Animals.

Dogs Could Transmit Rabies To Man Through Bite Or Licking Of Open Wounds. The Virus Is Present In the Saliva Of The Rabid Dog In Large Quantity.

Vaccination Of Dogs Could Prevent The Disease From Being Transmitted To Man 100%.

Clinical Signs of Rabies in Dogs Include Sudden Behavioural Changes, Loss Of Appetite (Anorexia), Staggering (Ataxia), Fear Of Water (Hydrophobia), Disobedience To Owner, Eating Of Strange Objects (Pica), Paralysis Of The Lower Jaw, Excessive Salivation (Drooling), A typical Aggression Among Others.

Immediate Commencement Of Post Exposure Prophylaxis In Man After The Bite Of A Rabid Dog (Within The First 24hours) Could Eliminate The Virus And Enhance Survival Of The Victim.

After The Onset Of Symptoms Of Rabies In The Affected Patient, Disease Progression Is Irreversible With Death Resulting Ultimately.

The Manifestation Of Rabies In Man Depends On The Site Of Dog Bite. The Closer the Bite To The Central Nervous System, The Earlier The Manifestation Of Symptoms In Man.

After A Bite From A Rabid Dog, It May Take Between Three Months And One Year Before Manifestation Of Symptoms.

Not All Dog Bites Are Caused By Rabies Infection, But All Dog Bites Must Be Reported In The Hospital For Appropriate Evaluation And Management.

Any Dog With Strange Behavioural Signs And Or History Of Human Bite Must Be Quarantined For 10-14 Days Under Strict Veterinary Supervision. A Rabid Dog Would Die Of The Disease Within The Period.

All Dogs From Three Months Of Age And Above Must Be Vaccinated Annually By A Veterinarian Who Must Issue A Duly Signed Certificate.

Transmission Of Rabies From Man To Man Has Not Been Reported. People Who Process Dog As Meat Is At High Risk Of The Infection. Cooking Also Destroys The Virus.

In Case Of A Bite From A Known Or Unknown Dog, The First Aid Treatment Is The Washing Of The Bite Wound Copiously With Detergent Solution For Up To 5 Minutes. The Virus Cannot Survive In Detergents

If Rabies Must Be Eliminated In Man, Rabies Must Be Eliminated In Dogs, Especially, Through Vaccination.

With Concerted Efforts Of Government, Non-Governmental Organisations and Citizens, Especially In The Area Of Responsible Dog Ownership, It Is Hoped That The War Against Rabies Shall Be Won, And Achieving Zero Rabies Incidences Globally By 2030.

Doctor Ibikunle Faramade

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