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Karachi

September 14, 2018

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Mad dog killed after attack on dozen people within an hour

Twenty-something Umair Ghauri was riding his motorbike, on his way to offer the Isha prayers, when suddenly a stray dog jumped at him in Model Colony, making him lose his balance and crash on the road.

As he was trying to comprehend the situation, the fiercely barking dog attacked him again, badly injuring his left leg. “I was in extreme pain and yelling for help when some bystanders ran towards me,” Ghauri said while narrating his ordeal of Wednesday night.

“Some of them threw stones, while one even used a broom to push away the dog, which had run away after injuring me. I was bleeding from the leg when I phoned my brother, who took me to the Jinnah Hospital.”

But Ghauri was not the only one to be attacked that night by the rabid dog in Malir’s Model Colony. Eleven other people, including women and children, also fell victim to the animal in three different lanes of the locality.

The dog’s biting streak ended when it attempted to attack two army recruits from Punjab. They fought the beast bravely and killed it by breaking its neck.

“There was a panic-like situation at our dog bite centre, as we had received 12 patients from Model Colony within a span of an hour, all complaining that they were bitten by a stray dog,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, the executive director of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).

“The pattern suggested that the dog might be rabid, so we took extra care of each patient, who were not only administered shots of anti-rabies vaccination but also of immunoglobulin (antibodies).”

The endemic issue

Although the rabid dog that had attacked a dozen people in Model Colony was killed on Wednesday night, as many as 50 more people, mostly children and the elderly, were brought to the JPMC’s dog bite centre by Thursday noon. They had all been attacked by stray dogs in different areas of the city.

The issue of stray dogs has reached endemic proportions in the metropolis after some non-governmental organisations voiced concerns that the animals were being “mercilessly” killed by the municipal authorities.

There are probably thousands and thousands of stray dogs across the city and they are multiplying at an alarming rate because there is nobody to get the people rid of them, said Dr Seemin, adding that stray dogs have become the most serious public health issue in the city.

“Every day, around 20 to 25 people, mostly children and the elderly who cannot run fast or defend themselves, are brought to the JPMC alone after being bitten by stray dogs. In any given day, we attend to 70 to 90 new and old dog-bite cases, who are given vaccine and immunoglobulin shots to prevent them from contracting rabies.”

She said that so far six people — two from Karachi and four from other cities of Sindh — have died due to rabies at the JPMC because they could not be vaccinated against the viral disease. “If a person is bitten by a rabid dog and they are not vaccinated against rabies, there is no chance of their survival.”

According to her, so far 6,000 dog-bite cases have been brought to the JPMC alone in the first eight months of the year. She feared that if no action is taken against the growing population of stray dogs, this figure could easily cross 10,000 by the end of the year.

“The municipal authorities would have to play their role and eliminate stray dogs, which are now everywhere. They have no boundaries and they are attacking people in each and every corner of the city.”

Vaccination cost

Vaccination of each dog-bite patient costs between Rs60,000 and Rs70,000 to the JPMC, but the hospital does not charge them anything because most of them come from underprivileged backgrounds and cannot afford to visit private tertiary-care facilities.

“If dog-bite cases reduce, this money that comes to millions in a year could be used to treat other serious illnesses that are controllable and to rehabilitate injured patients, but municipal authorities and governments would have to play their role,” said Dr Seemin.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a disease that on the one hand is 100 per cent fatal, but on the other, it is also 100 per cent vaccine-preventable.

It has no cure if a person gets a full-blown viral infection, says Dr Seemin, adding that it is a viral illness that is transmitted to humans if they are bitten by a rabid animal, mostly dogs.

“If a person is bitten by a stray animal, either a dog or a cat, they should visit our dog bite centre at the JPMC emergency to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, municipal authorities should play their role in clearing our streets of stray dogs.”

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