Over 59,000 people die yearly of rabies infection globally – Vet Officer

Dr Emmanuel Kwao Pecku, Tema Metropolis Veterinary Officer, said rabies is estimated to cause 59,000 human deaths annually in over 150 countries, with 95 per cent of cases occurring in Africa and Asia.

He said due to underreporting and uncertain estimates, this number was likely a gross underestimate, adding that, the burden of the disease was disproportionally borne by rural poor populations, with approximately half of such cases affecting children under 15 years of age.

Dr Pecku quoting a World Health Organization (WHO) report noted that; although fatal once clinical signs appear, rabies was entirely avoidable; vaccines, medicines and technologies have long been available to prevent death from rabies.

“Nevertheless, rabies still kills tens of thousands of people each year. Of these cases, approximately 99 per cent are acquired from the bite of an infected dog.

“Dog-mediated human rabies can be eliminated by tackling the disease at its source: infected dogs. Making people aware of how to avoid the bites of rabid dogs, to seek treatment when bitten and to vaccinate animals can successfully disrupt the rabies transmission cycle,” Dr. Pecku said at a stakeholder’s engagement with the Tema Regional Office of the Ghana News Agency.

The Veterinary officer explained that most people in Africa dd not seek early medical treatment after they were bitten by dogs or rabies infected animals.

Dr. Pecku noted that the rabies disease if not treated and the affected person starts showing clinical signs “there is no means for recovery as the affected person will definitely die hence the need to seek for early treatment”.

According to him the disease was ravaging people and called on stakeholders to support the campaign to get the various pets which included, Cats, Monkey’s and Dogs vaccinated, saying, that would be the surest way to prevent the rabies disease from spreading.

He also advised residents to secure their pets and not allow them stray around, saying stray animals were at risk of getting infected at any time.

The Tema Metro Veterinary Directorate has targeted about 4,000 animals to be vaccinated in Kpone-Katamanso, Tema West, and Tema Metropolitan Assembly by the end of October 2021.

The media have been called on to support the rabies vaccination exercise.

Rabies is a viral zoonotic disease that causes progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Clinically, it has two forms: Furious rabies – characterized by hyperactivity and hallucinations; and Paralytic rabies – characterized by paralysis and coma.

Source: GNA

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