Dog bite cases are on the rise in Mansehra city and the surrounding areas, exposing citizens to the deadly rabies virus as the Tehsil Municipal Administration and health authorities have failed to reduce the number of stray dogs, The Express Tribune was told here on Monday.
A shortage of funds and non-provision of the required quantity of ARV (anti rabies vaccine) vaccine is another issue that hampers health facilities and proper treatment of bite victims, who are forced to arrange vaccines on their own, an official source told.
Stray dogs roaming around meat and poultry shops at all times. They move through the city freely and are a constant threat to pedestrians. Schoolchildren and women are the most vulnerable to dogs; data gathered by the health department suggests that 300 to 400 dog bite cases are reported monthly at King Abdullah Teaching Hospital (KATH) alone.
“We receive at least 10 to 15 cases daily,” KATH Medical Superintendent Dr Niaz Muhammad disclosed. He said that due to the unchecked mobility of dogs in the city and peripheries, and despite increasing complaints, the concerned authorities are not taking any action.
Dr Niaz said that TMA and the office of Executive District Officer Health have a separate budget for shooting the dogs; however their increasing numbers indicates the department’s apathetic attitude. Niaz said the hospital was short on ARVs and the situation was worse in public hospitals, where the poor cannot afford the costly vaccine.
The doctor explained that a dog bite victim needs five antiviral injections. A single dose costs Rs790. The doctor said people must not take dog bites lightly and complete the five injection course, irrespective of whether they think the dog is rabid or not, as it is not easy to determine with an untrained eye.
He said that under the Zakat fund, a patient can be given a Rs1,000 treatment, but with 10-15 cases reported every day the situation becomes difficult. Owing to a shortage of vaccines and funds, he refers dog bite cases to Ayub Medical Complex Abbottabad for treatment.
Referring to jackal attacks on women in the Battal area, he said that these victims must also be vaccinated against rabies as all mammals can carry the virus. Similar cases have been reported from Chulundrian and Battar, where four women, six children and some elderly people were attacked by jackals at night.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.