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Rabies - fatal but preventable

1.7 from 3 votes
Monday, June 25, 2012

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LAHORE - Rabies is known by the name of Orphan disease - as it mainly inflicts marginalized group of community.

It is a neglected disease due to deficient and patchy surveillance system which leads to paucity of data with grave under reported figures than the actual ones. Though, rabies is endemic in Pakistan but the upcoming shrunken data about animal bite cases and rabies fails to gain required political attention. Resultantly it falls in the category of low priority diseases.

Rabies is a fatal disease caused by bite of animals (through saliva) like dogs in most of the cases, cats, monkey, raccoons, foxes, sheep, camel, cow, and buffalo. No evidence exists for rabies transmission through bite of squirrels, mice or reptiles. Time period from bite to onset of symptoms varies widely. It can be from a few days to 2 years depending upon the site of bite. Closer the bite to head region, more rapid will be the onset of disease. Characteristic early-stage symptoms of rabies are malaise, headache, fever, body aches and pains, violent movements, excessive salivation, uncontrolled excitement, depression, and fear of water. Finally, the patient may experience periods of weakness, eventually leading to coma . Death almost invariably results two to ten days after first symptoms due to respiratory paralysis.

Once the symptoms appear, rabies is 100% fatal, but before that and after the bite it is absolutely preventable disease. Unnecessary loss of precious lives can be avoided by adopting appropriate preventive measures. Creating public awareness regarding preventive measures is of extreme importance to reduce mortality due to this deadly disease.

Thorough washing of the wound with plain water and soap immediately after the bite for approximately five minutes is very effective in reducing the number of viral particles.. Don’t apply any oil, spices or bandages on the wound. If available, a Virucidal antiseptic such as povidone-iodine, iodine tincture, aqueous iodine solution, or alcohol (ethanol) should be applied after washing. Exposed mucous membranes such as eyes, nose or mouth should be flushed well with water. Try to access emergency of any nearby DHQ Hospital, teaching hospital or Rabies centre in Institute of Public Health, 6 Birdwood road Lahore where complete arrangement of vaccination is available.

Traditional intraabdominal vaccination has been declared obsolete by WHO and is now no more in practice. It is replaced by affordable contemporary cell culture vaccination regimen comprising of two site intradermal infections on day 0,3,7, & 28.

The first dose of rabies vaccine is given as soon as possible after exposure. One dose of two site Intradermal vaccination costs almost Rs.100. For deeper wounds in addition to vaccine, Rabies Immunoglobulin Serum (RIG) is also required to provide passive protection against rabies virus till the time body develops antibodies after vaccination. RIG should be administered within 7 days after vaccination otherwise its of no use. Patients who have previously received pre-exposure vaccination do not receive the immunoglobulin, only the post-exposure vaccinations on day 0 and 2. Started with little or no delay, prevention management is 100% effective against rabies. In the case of significant delay in administering vaccination, the treatment should be administered regardless, as it may still be effective.

The most effective way to prevent rabies in pets is through vaccination. Safe, effective vaccines are available for dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and sheep.

All dogs and cats should be vaccinated after 12 weeks of age, one year later, and then every 3 years. Rabies shots should be administered by a licensed veterinarian. In addition to that, Keep wild and unfamiliar animals away from your pets. Don’t bring stray animals home.

Education and spreading awareness of rabies is important as lack of awareness in the case of rabies causes unnecessary deaths. We need to recognize that in case of possible exposure the risk is very high and timely post-exposure vaccination is important to save lives.

 Copyright @ 2010-2012

Source: The News
1.7 from 3 votes
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