‘Rabies takes 21,000 lives in India annually’

Kolkata, Nov 9 (Bureau) Rabies, one of the deadliest viral diseases, kills 21,000 people on an average every year in India, and the number is increasing, say experts. The major risk factors of developing human rabies are animal bite, mostly from certain stray animals – dogs, cats, monkeys and rat. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), rabies is a preventable viral disease that still poses a significant public health threat. Timely post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and responsible domestic animal management are key to achieving this goal. As per the latest data, India is estimated to have 30-60 million stray dogs, which are the main vectors of transmission of the disease.

Poor knowledge and awareness about human rabies leads to failure of seeking immediate treatment following animal bites, according to Syamasis Bandyopadhyay, a leading general physician and rheumatologist. Also poor traditional and cultural practices following bites from infected animals, socio-economic factors and inertia of using preventive measures against rabies add to the disease burden. According to a report by the Union Health Ministry, certain parts of India has higher case fatality. “Avoidance of exposure and immediate medical attention including anti rabies antibody where needed with anti rabies vaccination are the key measures to win over this deadly disease,” said Bandyopadhyay, who is attached to Apollo Multi-Speciality Hospital, Kolkata. September 28 is observed as World Rabies Day.