By HOSEA NYAMLONG
THE cases of rabies in our society today, is becoming very alarming. It has put human lives at high risk.
International day for rabies is celebrated every 28th September as an annual programme that is aimed at sensitizing the general public and pet owners on the importance of vaccinating their animals against the rabies virus.
This year’s theme for the world international day for rabies is “vaccinate to eliminate”. This means regular vaccination would help in the eradication of the virus.
Though, 2019 marks the 13th year from its inception in 2007, research has shown that every year globally, about 56,000 people die as a result of rabies virus from dog bites.
The first case of rabies was recorded in 1912 and was discovered in Nigeria and Thailand. Ever since, the discovery of the virus, the Asian continent became the highest in rabies cases in the whole world. Recently, however, Africa has taken the lead in cases of rabies and Nigeria recorded the highest cases in the sub-saharan Africa.
Children are mostly vulnerable to dog bite, because children like to play with dogs and other domestic pets. And when bitten by a dog, they are afraid to report to their parents or guardians.
This puts them more at risk than the adults. The deadly virus (rabies) spread to people from saliva of infected animals; this explains the hallmark symptoms of rabies as mental such as hallucination, convulsion and agitation.
Most cases of rabies in humans start with an animal bite. If the animal has the rabies virus in its saliva, an open wound can become infected. Once in the body, the virus spread quickly to the spinal cord and brain.
Similarly, rabies virus are found in wildlife especially, racoons, skunks and foxes.
In Europe today, they have controlled the spread of rabies domestically, and they have gone to the wild animals, to vaccinate them in order to stop the spread of the virus. And they vaccinate domestics animals once after 3 years.
Therefore, this year’s awareness was directed at pets owners to take responsibility for their pets by regular vaccination every year with anti rabies vaccine and leash all roaming about dogs in our environment. They should be curtailed by owners to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
Research shows that humans are classified death end host to the disease. Rabies vaccine is given to victims of rabies infected bite, to protect them if they are exposed, when bitten by dogs.
It is advised that people who are bitten wash the area where one is bitten with water and soap, then seek for medical attention immediately. However, in some parts of the country, dog meat is a delicacy enjoyed by many. Apparently, even healthy dogs, slaughtered for human consumption harbor the viral antigen in their brain and saliva.
More so, butchers of dogs are at risk, because in the process of butchering, one could contact the virus through an open wound.
Furthermore, in Africa, Nigeria has the highest risk of rabies cases, because of the low number of dogs being immunized by pet owners. Basically, unimmunized dogs in the country would increase more cases of rabies outbreak.
Therefore, this is a clarion call to Nigerians, to see the need and importance of giving vaccine to their domestic animals every year.
It is cheaper to vaccinate, to save the cost of treatment of a victim bitten by dogs with rabies virus. Prevention is better than cure.
Rabies virus is preventable if we take the following tips seriously.
Vaccinate dogs, cats against rabies every year. – Keep dogs and cats under control from roaming about.
-Leave stray or unknown dogs and cats alone.
-Do not keep wild animals at home.
Make your property unattractive to wild animals, like bats.
-Protect small pets from predators.
-Keep medical records of animals.
-Always avail yourself with updated information about animal care.
In conclusion, the federal government of Nigeria should fund the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom to produce more vaccines and make them available and affordable to owners of domestic pets.
We are the solution to our problems; it is our collective efforts that will eliminate the virus in our community.
My appeal to the public is we should take responsibility for our pets by vaccinating them every year to safeguard humanity from the dreaded killer virus that has been a threat in our country.