The Supreme Court recently rejected the Kerala government’s request to allow the culling of stray dogs in the state, which has recorded 21 rabies deaths and nearly two hundred thousand dog bites this year alone. It comes even as opposition parties have accused the CPM state government led by Pinarayi Vijayan of distributing substandard rabies shots in hospitals and circumventing mandatory testing before approval.
“None of the deaths could be attributed to the quality of the vaccine/RIG,” an official said. The Center’s report said the majority of deaths were preventable and could be attributed to low awareness in the general community of the do’s and don’ts of animal bites, the sources said, however, reporting a delay in finding time and a suitable animal. management of bites in the cases examined. “This could be attributed to not recognizing the importance of prompt and comprehensive post-exposure prophylaxis against rabies,” the findings state. “Gaps in knowledge about washing wounds with soap and water, antiseptic and failure to apply chillies, turmeric to wounds were found. -rabies clinics were shared”, indicates the report.
Deaths have also been attributed to inadequate wound washing facilities in animal bite management facilities, even at tertiary care level and limited availability of ARVs/ARS in peripheral health facilities, as only 30 % of PHCs and CSUs had ARVs and 3.5% of all facilities had ARSs, according to the report. Intensive information, education and communication activities are needed for all target audiences on the do’s and don’ts of animal bite management, the committee recommended, they said. The solution to aggressive dogs is to neuter them, experts say, because neutering ensures that stray dogs are neutered and vaccinated, meaning they won’t fight over territory or food. Kerala has recently been equipped with a medical laboratory to test human samples for rabies, an official source said.
Kerala state government officials said that under the animal birth control program, 79,000 dogs were neutered in Kerala between 2017 and 2021, and experts were enlisted to raise awareness, responsible parenting of pets among people, and also to keep a check on backyard breeders, proper waste management, and running effective birth control and animal vaccination programs. Incidentally, the death of a seven-month-old boy mutilated by a street dog in a Noida apartment has once again shed light on how communities should deal with the problem of stray dogs.