Rabies deaths decrease

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

Deputy Director General (Public Health) Dr. Sarath Amunugama said that in 2001, rabies had accounted for 101 deaths but in 2011 only 41 had died of the disease.

Ninety-nine per cent of rabies death are due to dog bites.

Animals like cats and rodents could transmit the virus to humans. One person died of rabies every ten minutes. Sri Lanka had recorded only 28 deaths due to rabies since 2011 and the government was determined to eliminate the deadly disease in 2016, Dr. Amunugama told a Media Conference on the World Rabies Day (September 28) at the National Blood Institute, Narahenpita on September 21.

Dr. Amunugama said that the Health Ministry had been making every effort to vaccinate 70 per cent of the dog population. The Medical Supplies Division (MSD) had issued 125,000 vaccinations to treat dog bites and up to last month around 50,000 dogs had been sterilized and about 25,000 canines vaccinated with birth control drugs.

Director National Rabies Control Unit Dr. A. L. Harischandra said that the rabies virus could not live unless it was inside a living cell. The virus would directly affect the central nervous system. The commonest symptoms of the disease were severe headache, fever with sore threat, nervousness and confusion, paralysis, hydrophobia (fear of water) and difficulty in breathing. It was the duty of the all pet lovers to ensure that their dogs are vaccinated.

He pointed out that many pet owners did not take the veterinary guidelines issued by the government veterinary department seriously. It was also the duty of the people to keep the vaccination reports safely, not to provoke the dogs, avoid unknown dogs and inquire about the presence of dogs when visiting houses.

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