India Bears the Brunt of Rabies Since Time Immemorial
Not a day passes by in our lives without fearing the bite of street dogs. I might be one of the many individuals who avoids walking on the streets and sticks to parks/building lawn area to run or jog fearing these canine ammals . There are reports of dog bites and deaths every day in newspapers but what we do is read the article, feel sorry for the victim for a few seconds and move on to the entertainment section. But why bother when its not us or any of our family members! Such carelessness, failure to report dog bite incidents or avoidance of precautionary measures have left us with one death every 15 minutes due to rabies!
Rabies is a zoonotic disease caused by the rabies virus. Though we commonly associate it with dogs, it can happen in wild animals including bats and foxes, dogs, cats and farm animals. Its passed on to individuals from the bite of an infected animal. The virus enters humans either via infected saliva from the animal into the wound of humans or through direct exposure of mucosal surface to the infected animal’s saliva. Once the virus enters the human body and reaches the brain it starts replicating and the individual starts showing signs of the disease. Hallucination, fever, headache, fatigue, confusion and paralysis are common symptoms and the presence of these confirms the fatality risk involved. The affected individual must seek immediate medical attention. A couple of shots can prevent rabies in people exposed to the virus.
Rabies is universally present across all countries worldwide with the exception of Antarctica. Although 100% preventable through vaccination, there are more than 59,000 people who succumb to death due to rabies 99% of which are dog-mediated. Among these deaths 95% of them are from the Asian and African sub-continents.
World Rabies Day
Started in 2007, World Rabies Day is celebrated each year to raise awareness about the disease which is 100% preventable yet causing thousands of deaths globally. This date seems perfect for celebration as it marks the anniversary of Louis Pasteur’s death-the proud inventor of the first rabies vaccine. Vaccination is a sure-shot way of curbing certain diseases and for more information on this, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
The theme for 2018 is Rabies: Share the message. Save a life. 2030 is the deadline for eradicating this disease and this year’s theme can be used to effectively spread the message to governments to take steps to go by their deadlines as well as to people urging them to vaccinate their dogs, treat bite wounds and teach children to avoid dog bites as more than 50% of victims in the Asian and African countries are children under the age of 15.
India accounts for almost 60% of rabies deaths in Asia and 36% of deaths globally. Lack of coordination and proper programs are the core reasons for such widespread attack of the disease. There are certain precautionary actions that can be taken to protect ourselves from the disease.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.