RABIES - SRI LANKA: CANINE CONTROL, HUMAN ***************************************** A ProMED-mail post http://www.promedmail.org ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases http://www.isid.org
The Health Ministry spends Rs. 500 [million?; about USD 3.8 million] on post-exposure treatment of rabies and an additional Rs. 100 million [about USD 761 000] per year on mass vaccinations and sterilising programs (surgical and chemical) to control the dog population. They resulted in a drop in the dog population by over 50 percent [presumably a result of the sterilisation programme].
"However, all these funds will [be] wasted unless the public works with us to eliminate rabies," speakers stated at a rabies prevention briefing to mark World Rabies Day held on 21 Sep 2012. Dogs are the main carriers of rabies in Sri Lanka. Data from the Public Veterinary Services had revealed that 28 deaths occurred due to rabies this year . The highest number of cases were reported from Jaffna, Kegalle, Hambantota and Matara. Director, Rabies Control Unit Dr. P.A.L Harischandra said stray dogs and pet dogs bite over 2000 people each year. Medical Officer at the Rabies Treatment Center at the National Hospital Dr Amila said an average of 50 to 60 patients bitten by animals were brought daily for treatment. In the past 8 months, over 500 000 dogs were given rabies injections [vaccine?], and 125 000 patients with dog bites were treated; most were children below 15 years. MRI Head of the Rabies Department, Dr Omantha Wimalaratne, said that the MRI was the national reference lab for rabies, which carries out routine screening and antibody (confirmatory) tests. "Our goal is to eliminate rabies by 2016. But the public must cooperate with us to achieve it," she emphasized. To achieve this goal, the Health Ministry recently introduced several new regulations: It is now compulsory that MOHs in all government hospitals send the relevant dog's brain for testing and verification due to underreporting of cases of rabies. It is also compulsory for dog owners to register and vaccinate their pets. "Vaccinating dogs against rabies at 6 weeks, 6 months and thereafter once every 1-2 years, and responsible ownership, are the most powerful tools against the deadly disease," the speakers stressed.
Commentary: We, in India, have the largest number of death due to Rabies in the entire world! Steps like these being taken by our neighboring country should help in preventing many of these avoidable deaths, especially in children.