Role of student community in rabies prevention

~Samiran Borah

     Rabies is an acute fatal viral infection in man and warm blooded animals. It mainly spreads by the bite or scratch of a rabid animal. The disease is propagated by bite from animal to animal and animal to man. The disease is characterised by signs of abnormal behaviour, nervous disturbances, impaired consciousness, ascending paralysis and death. When the disease occurs in man, the main symptoms is manifested as fear of water (hydrophobia). It is locally known as ‘Jalatanka’ .There are mainly two types of rabies – Furious or encephalatic rabies and Paralytic rabies. Furious rabies is more common in human cases .The person is likely to experience hyper activity and hydrophobia. In paralytic rabies paralysis is the main symptom .

WHO strategies for Dog rabies control and eventual elimination:

WHO promotes organization of sustainable mass dog vaccination campaigns and dog population management through reduction of stray populations (by implementing animal-birth-control programs); control of trade and movement of dogs.

Oral vaccination of domestic carnivores as dog accessibility to vaccination by the parenteral route is one of the major obstacles for dog rabies control in many different parts of the world. WHO has stimulated studies on oral vaccination of dogs (OVD) and the development of safer and effective vaccines and baits for OVD.

WHO strategies for human rabies prevention:

WHO promotes wider access to appropriate post-exposure treatment using the cost-effective multi-site intradermal regimen with modern tissue culture or avian embryo-derived rabies vaccines.

Possible domestic production of rabies biologicals, particularly rabies immunoglobulin, which are in critical short supply globally.

Continual education of health and veterinary professionals in rabies prevention and control.

Public health educational strategies at the community level within endemic regions.

Role of students in spreading awareness :

Rabies almost always kills humans and animals once symptoms appear. It is one of the most fatal zoonotic diseases .”Across the world 100 children die everyday from rabies”— Mission Rabies. However many of these deaths can be prevented if people can obtain a series of post bite vaccination as soon as possible after they are bitten .The main challenge is that many people do not know the risk of animal bites specially the children beyond 15 years of age who fear to reveal the fact to their parents. So, students specially the students from veterinary, medical or science background can give their best contribution by spreading awareness among the local people specially the children below 15 years. The main aim of awareness should be to give importance on avoidance of animal bites, management of bite wounds, post exposure prophylaxis and seeking the medical help as soon possible instead of going to local healers or performing superstitious beliefs. The students should also take lead role in creating awareness among the pet owners to vaccinate their pups and to aware them that their children can get infection from the pups if they are not properly vaccinated from time to time. Programs should also be arranged to vaccinate the stay dogs to protect our surroundings. The involvement of students in these programs for creating awareness and publicity is very essential. As the children below 15 years are highly susceptible so awareness programs should be conducted in schools from time to time so that the children are more aware of the avoidance of animal bites and the preventive measures to control it. “Public engagement and education are essential to any sustainable rabies program”—- Dr. Bernadette Abella Ridder Team Leader, Zoonotic Disease Unit, World Health Organization. The awareness should be part of extracurricular activites. In this regard the contributions of students are essential. Students also aware the general public about the proper disposal of dead animals with collaboration with state veterinary officer and his team so that the spread of infection can be minimized.

           Rabies caused about 17,400 deaths worldwide in 2015. More than 95% of human deaths from rabies occur in Africa and Asia. About 40% of deaths occur in children under the age of 15. Rabies is present in more than 150 countries and on all continents but Antarctica. More than 3 billion people live in regions of the world where rabies occurs. A number of countries, including Australia and Japan, as well as much of Western Europe, do not have rabies among dogs. Many islands do not have rabies at all.  Mission Rabies was founded in 2013 with the aim to eliminate rabies by 2030. It is our prime duty to support the mission which is started globally and make it a reality by 2030. In this context the works done by Rabies Education and Awareness Campaign in Goa is highly appreciable. Today people of Goa specially the children are more aware of the avoidance of animal bites and their preventive measures. So, it’s high time now to join our hands together despite of our geographical boundaries and fight against the fatal zoonotic disease i.e. Rabies and make the world free of Rabies by 2030, it is probably the need of the hour. Thereby making our planet Earth a safe and healthy place to live in. Not only for humans but also for animals…..

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Authors:    Samiran Borah

5th Year, B. V. Sc. & AH.  Lakhimpur College of Veterinary Science,

Assam Agriculture University.


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