Bit­ten by lethargy

Most ra­bies deaths oc­cur in In­dia. Yet, the gov­ern­ment is drag­ging its feet over con­trol­ling dog pop­u­la­tion, vac­ci­nat­ing them or even mak­ing enough shots avail­able for vic­tims |

Down to Earth - - CONTENTS - ISHAN KUKRETI

De­spite hav­ing the high­est num­ber of ra­bies deaths, In­dia is still drag­ging its feet over mea­sures to con­trol the deadly dis­ease

HERE IS some­thing that can make Louis Pas­teur turn in his grave. The French sci­en­tist had cre­ated the first vac­cine against ra­bies—a vi­ral in­fec­tion that causes in­flam­ma­tion of the brain, lead­ing to delu­sion and then death. Some 130 years later, the virus con­tin­ues to be the dead­li­est killer in In­dia, shows the Na­tional Health Pro­file 2018. All the 97 peo­ple who had con­tracted the dis­ease last year suc­cumbed to it, says the re­port, re­leased on June 25. Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (who), In­dia ac­counts for 36 per cent of ra­bies deaths that oc­cur world­wide each year. While one can de­velop the dis­ease if bit­ten or scratched by any ra­bid mam­mal, such as mon­keys or bats,

who says dogs con­trib­ute up to 99 per cent of all ra­bies trans­mit­ted to hu­mans; and chil­dren are the usual vic­tims.

Data with the Union Min­istry of Health and Fam­ily Wel­fare (mo­hfw) shows that since 2011 there has been a drop of over 60 per cent in the num­ber of ra­bies deaths year on year (ex­cept 2017). But ex­perts rub­bish the data. “The true bur­den of ra­bies in In­dia is not known. The re­ported in­ci­dence is prob­a­bly an un­der­es­ti­ma­tion be­cause in In­dia ra­bies is still not a no­ti­fi­able dis­ease,” says Hen­drik Bekedam, who rep­re­sen­ta­tive to In­dia. “The gov­ern­ment fig­ures are way lower than the ac­tual fig­ures,” says M K Su­dar­shan, founder mem­ber of the As­so­ci­a­tion for Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol of Ra­bies in In­dia (apcri). A 2015 study, pub­lished in peer-re­viewed plos

Ne­glected Trop­i­cal Dis­eases cor­rob­o­rates his ob­ser­va­tion. The study that

CRE­ATIVE COM­MONS

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