Massive rise in rabies cases in Kerala; virus found in 168 out of 300 samples

Illustration: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: There has been almost double the rise in cases of dogs infected with the deadly rabies virus in the last five years, test reports of the Kerala Animal Husbandry department have revealed.

Out of the 300 samples of pet dogs and dead ones collected, as many as 168 cases turned positive for the disease. The cases of the virus in other animals, including cats, also doubled during the period. A chief reason for the substantial rise in rabies cases is the stoppage of vaccinations, which were used to be provided with sterilization activities.

The shocking fact got revealed when an inquiry was made into the reasons for the death of 20 persons due to rabies. The number of rabies cases in animals in the state is rising. The examinations at the State Institute for Animal Disease found the presence of the rabies virus in 168 out of the total 300 samples collected. This is against the 48 samples testing positive for the virus out of the total 150 collected in 2016.

The immunity against canine rabies could be possible only if the dogs are vaccinated and the booster doses given at regular intervals. Out of the 20 deaths caused by rabies, six persons got infected with the disease by bites from pet dogs. The negligence in timely rabies vaccination has resulted in the spread of diseases among pet animals. Also, only if we could prevent the instances of stray dogs getting infected with rabies could we prevent the spread of the virus to other pet animals.

SC to hear issue on Friday
The Supreme Court will look into the stray dog menace in Kerala. Chief Justice U U Lalit said the petition submitted in this regard will be considered on Friday.

Adv V K Biju brought the matter to the court's attention and pointed out that from being God's own country Kerala has become dogs' own country.

"Stray dog menace has increased drastically in the state. Children and the poor are the most common victims of stray dog attacks. Deaths occur despite people taking rabies vaccination," said Biju.

He also requested to seek a report from the chairman of the apex committee, Justice S Girirajan, appointed by the Supreme Court.

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