Let’s keep our finger cross to be free of rabies

  • Kaung Htet Thar

Rabies has been notorious among people for many ages but very few people have had bad experience on it. However, it is not easy to understand the negative impact of rabies if someone has not had experience on it. Now, it is time to know about rabies without having personal bad experiences and its consequences of rabies, as it coincides with the celebration of world rabies day which will fall on 28th September. Globally, there are celebrations of world rabies days including the activities of vaccinating to dogs, public talk and awareness campaign on rabies. Celebration of world rabies day is a unique global activity which involves not only single organization but also all stakeholders to conduct disease prevention and control of rabies. The motto of 2017 world rabies day is “Rabies: zero by 30”
Among ASEAN countries, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore are free from rabies and the other member countries are still struggling to control and eliminate of rabies with the ASEAN strategic guideline which include: prevention of rabies in line with one health strategy; harmonization of existing rule and regulation to support effective control programme; vaccination and PEP treatment; managing dog population control; strengthening capacity building; participation of all stakeholder. In Myanmar, although there are some activities to prevent and control against the disease by different organizations, it needs to have consolidated approach with active engagement of national level for better and effective control of rabies. The major constraints in the disease control are: difficulties in depopulation of stray dogs by spaying or castration; providing rabies vaccine to those dogs; setting up nation wise strategy to control the population. According to the scientific studies, veterinary researchers revealed that the ratio of dog and human was 1: 6 in rural areas at Myanmar and it is an indication of existence of a large number of rabies susceptible animals within the country than that of the estimation of dog approximately 3.5 million in 2003. The majority of dogs are stray dogs and they are fed by sympathetic community who never take responsibility in case of unwanted events. In addition, the public participation in the prevention and control of rabies is still not satisfactory, as an example of pilot mass rabies vaccination campaign in central Myanmar.
Rabies is caused by virus and it can result fatal termination in the victims with no proper vaccination practice which can effectively prevent the fatal ending if it is practiced in early stage. The major source of rabies is from rabid dog bite. The disease is threatening to more than 150 nations and territories globally and over fifteen million human victims have been taking post exposure prophylaxis treatment every year. Over 60,000 persons are died of rabies and majority were reported in India whereas in Myanmar it was estimated around 1000 death case per year. The clinical signs in dogs mostly appear within 10 days of post exposure to the rabid dog and it can vary up to 6 months. The most prominent clinical signs is “changing behavior” with two distinct forms: one is furious form which show aggressive behavior and unprovoked attack to all moving objectives; the other one is dumb form which does not show any active activities and look calm in behavior. In Myanmar, the reported animals are not only in dog but also in cats, horses, cattle, buffalo, sheep and goat and pigs.
Even the disease can be effectively preventable by vaccination in both human and animal, the cost of mass vaccination in dog to get 80 percent coverage is higher than that of PEP treatment in human victims according to an economic study in late 2016. Nevertheless, conducting mass vaccination to dog can prevent the disease transmission in both animals and human rather than vaccination in human alone which cannot reduce the animal rabies.
As nation develop, the human right and animal welfare issue are appeared as an important concept in modern community and many dog shelter and animal care volunteers emerge and they become active to save the lives of ownerless animals. Keeping those dogs in a shelter together providing feed, necessary treatments are humane activities to look after stray dog and helping in rabies control. Those dogs and dog attendants definitely need to have proper vaccination against rabies annually. Moreover, animal lover must also be aware of the risk of rabies and to save both human and animal, all of them need to take precaution with proper vaccination to establish a pleasant community.
By understanding the frustrating rabies disease, we should keep our finger cross to be free of rabies in our community in line with the world rabies day motto of 2017 “Rabies: zero by 30”, providing rabies vaccine to our pet dog; reporting suspected case to the nearest veterinary department; taking prompt PEP treatment at nearest medical center and participating rabies campaign to save our country free from rabies.

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