RABIES: A REAL AND SERIOUS THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH AND ANIMAL WELFARE
Rabies is a deadly viral infection that affects the nervous system of mammals, including humans. Contrary to popular belief, rabies is not a myth or a legend; it is a real and serious threat to public health and animal welfare and according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Rabies kills about 59,000 people every year, mostly in Asia and Africa. Children under 15 years of age account for 40% of the victims.
Rabies is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, such as a dog, bat, raccoon, or fox. The virus causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, leading to symptoms such as fever, headache, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, aggression, and paralysis. Without treatment, rabies is almost always fatal within days or weeks of the onset of symptoms.
The good news is that rabies can be prevented. Here are the major steps to take to PREVENT THE SPREAD OF RABIES.
- Vaccination of dogs and other domestic animals which helps to control the spread. It also reduces the risk of transmission from animals to humans and protects both pets and their owners. Vaccination is a very important prevention measure and should be embraced.
- Seek immediate medical attention after a potential exposure in a condition where you or someone you around you have been bitten or scratched by an animal that may have rabies, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately for Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which includes thorough washing of the wound site, vaccinations, and administration of immunoglobulin or monoclonal antibodies, if necessary, can prevent the onset of rabies.
- Avoid contact with wild animals such as bats and raccoons who are potential carriers of the rabies virus. It’s important
to avoid contact with these animals and teach children especially in communities where the carrier animals are predominant about the dangers of approaching or handling them. Rabies is not a curse or a punishment; it is a preventable disease that can be eliminated with awareness and action.
World Rabies Day is celebrated every year on September 28th to raise awareness about the disease and promote prevention measures. The theme for the year 2023 is “All for One, One Health for All”. A One Health approach engages multiple sectors and local communities to build awareness and conduct mass dog vaccination campaigns, with the goal of ending rabies by 2030.
Dr. Somorin Elizabeth