World Day Against Rabies

World Day Against Rabies

By Nepali Patro (Sudan Bhattarai Upadhyaya)
September 13, 2021

World Day Against Rabies. Today, September 28, World Day Against Rabies, commemorates the death of Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist. The vaccine against the rabies virus is his contribution to all of us. In 1885, Louis Pasteur created the vaccine against the rabies virus also known as LyssaVirus after researching it for years. World Day Against Rabies is celebrated to commemorate his contribution to saving many human lives. 

Rabies virus is a disease transmitted from animals to humans. This dangerous disease or virus is mainly transmitted by the bite of a dog, stray dogs, and other suspicious animals. The virus is transmitted to a dog from the wild animal bite having rabies and then it spreads to humans through its bite. The virus is transmitted through its saliva during the bite. Rabies, a disease transmitted from animals to humans, makes it difficult for people to survive it.

Rabies is derived from the Latin word “rabir” meaning “anger”.  Mankind has been plagued by rabies since ancient times. The Mesopotamian Law of Eshnunna also mentions rabies around 2200 BC. Similarly, the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) also described rabies as “the madness of dogs” in his book, A History of Animals.

Before Louis Pasteur, an Italian physician, Girolamo Fracastoro, discovered rabies as a deadly disease in the 16th century and called it an “incurable wound.” The occurrence of rabies in the Asian subcontinent is also believed to have taken place around the Vedic period (1500-500 BC). In Sanskrit, rabies comes from an ancient word “rabhas” which means “to cause violence”.

The Rabies Lyssavirus kills 55,000 people worldwide each year. Rabies transmitted to humans through dog bites can also be transmitted by animal lick in existing skin lesions. Research has also shown that organ transplants, such as eye and kidney, can also spread the virus to the recipient. Therefore, organ transplants from people who have died of rabies should not be used. 

Humans with rabies as well as dogs go crazy. People with rabies have symptoms such as hydrophobia (fear of water), screaming, squealing, scratching, drooling, numbness, and rigidness of the hands and knees. A rabies dog hides its tail under its legs and is barked at as well by other dogs. A rabies-infected dog can be seen walking around drooling. One should be aware even more of such dogs. 

In the event of a bite from an animal infected with the rabies virus, the wound should be cleaned immediately with soap and water. In case of unavailability of soap, the wound needs to be cleaned in clean running water for at least 15 minutes. And, the patient needs to be taken to the hospital as soon as possible to be vaccinated against rabies. Regularly vaccinating a pet dog and avoiding the bite of a stray dog prevents rabies. Similarly, in case of bites by wild animals such as foxes, cats, bats, etc., vaccination against rabies should be taken immediately.

Rabies is a global problem but its burden is felt more in underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa. In Nepal, rabies has killed 32 people, including about 500 animals, in recent years. Rabies in Nepal. In Nepal alone, about 30,000 animals are vaccinated every year as a rabies prevention measure. According to the World Strategic Plan, the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to reduce human mortality from dog-borne rabies to zero by the year 2030.

Avoiding rabies means being safe from animal bites, especially from dog bites. To avoid rabies,  bite from stray dogs should be avoided. According to doctors, one needs to be vigilant of the dogs and get vaccinated against rabies immediately in case of a dog bite. That is why everyone needs to be careful and vaccinate their pet dog against rabies as well. It is wrong to think the bite was from a small dog or the wound is small so there is no need to be vaccinated. It is mandatory to be vaccinated against rabies, whether it is a small wound or a large one, or even if the dog was small or big. Either way, one needs to get inoculated against rabies in case of a dog bite.

Although it is not yet known whether rabies is transmitted through the consumption of milk and cooked meat, but their consumption especially from rabies-infected animals is discouraged.

As per the dog census in Nepal done during the year 1998, there were around 2 million dogs in the country. This calculation was made by the National Zoonose and Food Hygiene Research Center. In 1999, a study showed that there were 1,70,000 stray dogs in the Kathmandu Valley alone.

In the case of rabies contraction, the mortality rate is high. But it can be completely prevented by vaccination against the disease before its onset. The Laboratory for the Production of Rabies Vaccine (RVPL) in Nepal was started in 1970. It produced the first Nepali anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) in the country. The National Vaccine Production Laboratory (NVPL), formerly known as RVPL, is estimated to have produced 120,000 doses/vials of rabies vaccine in Nepal during the year 2019.

Vaccination against the virus is the main link in reducing the number of rabies in animals as well as in humans. The same rule applies to any kind of virus, whether it is Rabies or Corona 19 virus. Considering the number of streets and domestic dogs present, it is very necessary to increase the amount of vaccine production in the country. Nepal is also a member of the “Joint Efforts Against Rabies” formed in 2015 by organizations such as the WHO, FAO, OIE, and GARC. Its goal is to eradicate rabies from dogs’ bites in the world by the year 2030. Accordingly, Nepal is working to eradicate rabies with the slogan “Zero rabies by 2030”.

A concrete effort is needed to control and eradicate rabies, which is a threat to human health, including animals. The goal of turning the slogan “Zero Rabies by 2030” into a reality will be possible only through the joint efforts of all stakeholders in the country. Only when the country continues to vaccinate all its citizens, and people get it abiding by the rules set forth then we will be able to defeat rabies or any other deadly life-threatening viruses. World Day Against Rabies. 

Source: Compiled by Nepali Patro from different rabies-related articles and linked articles available on the Internet. To Read this article in the Nepali Language please click here.


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