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May 9, 2019

11-year-old boy from Sanghar dies from rabies at JPMC

Karachi

May 9, 2019

Rabies caused the year’s fourth death in Karachi after an 11-year-old boy from the Sanghar district of Sindh died due to the lethal, dog-borne disease at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) on Wednesday, officials said.

“Last night, an 11-year-old child brought from Sanghar died at the JPMC with full-blown rabies. He was not immunised and was bitten by a rabid dog three months back on his hand. So sad is the story of dog-bite if left untreated,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, the executive director of the JPMC, while talking to The News.

She said the child, Lal Bux, was taken to a faith-healer in the Sanghar town after his condition deteriorated. She said he had received some sort of an injection but his father did not know what type of an injection was administered to the ill-fated child.

“Victims of dog-bite are required to get proper immunisation with anti-rabies vaccine as well as immunoglobulin administration immediately after they are bitten by a dog,” she said and urged people to visit the JPMC’s dog-bite centre at their emergency for the vaccination.

She said that around 100 to 150 new and old cases of dog- bites report at the centre for vaccination, and so far over 3,500 people, mostly children, have visited it from different areas of Karachi, interior of Sindh and Balochistan.

“The authorities should take this issue seriously now and get people rid of stray dogs. Unfortunately, in most of the cases, children become victims of stray dogs as they cannot defend themselves against the beasts,” Dr Jamali added.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease which occurs in more than 150 countries and territories and dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99 percent of all rabies transmissions to humans.

“Rabies elimination is feasible through vaccination of dogs and prevention of dog-bites. Infection causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, mainly in Asia and Africa. Around 40 percent of people bitten by suspected rabid animals are children under 15 years of age,” the WHO fact sheet about rabies says.

Immediate, thorough wound washing with soap and water after contact with a suspect rabid animal is crucial and can save lives. In up to 99 percent of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans. Yet, rabies can affect both domestic and wild animals. It is spread to people through bites or scratches, usually via saliva, WHO says.

Fourth death in Karachi

It was the fourth death due to full-blown rabies in Karachi as three people have already been died due to the dog-borne disease at the Indus Hospital Karachi this year, said Aftab Gohar, an official of the hospital in Karachi.

“Three patients, one each from Karachi, interior of Sindh and Balochistan, have so far been died at the Indus Hospital due to rabies this year,” he said, adding that they were receiving 30-35 daily cases of dog-bite from different areas of Karachi as well as from the interior of Sindh and Balochistan.

Vaccine shortage

Pakistan is facing an extreme shortage of anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) due to a limited supply from India, said Dr Seemin Jamali, adding that they had managed to get the vaccine for their needs, but at most of the public and private hospitals in Karachi, the ARV and immunoglobulin were not available.

“At the time when anti-rabbies vaccine is hard to acquire, authorities should take this issue seriously and take measures to reduce the population of stray dogs in Karachi and the rest of the country,” Dr Jamali said and added that if right decisions were not taken immediately, this could emerge as a major public health concern in the days to come.

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