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November 6, 2019

Man bitten by dog while saving daughter dies


November 6, 2019

The dog-borne lethal rabies encephalitis disease claimed another life in the metropolitan city after a middle-aged resident of the New Karachi neighbourhood who was bitten by a stray dog while trying to save his four-year-old daughter a few days ago died at an isolation ward of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) on Tuesday.

“Muhammad Saleem, the ill-fated victim of a canine attack who had developed full-blown rabies, died early on Tuesday morning. He was being given intravenous sedatives to alleviate his suffering and ease his respiratory distress. Doctors and paramedics did their best to ease his suffering in his last moments,” JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali told The News.

She said that after learning that nothing could be done to save Saleem’s life, his family tried to take him to Rahim Yar Khan in an ordinary ambulance to a faith healer, but they were advised against it because it could have caused immense agony to the dying man.

Dr Seemin said the father of six died only because no rabies vaccine was available at the Sindh Government Hospital New Karachi or the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. She stressed the need to reduce the population of stray dogs in the city because they were now getting bolder with each passing day, while the number of rabid canines was also on the rise all across Sindh.

People from different walks of life strongly reacted over Saleem’s death due to rabies encephalitis after its news was disseminated by the electronic and social media.

They censured the provincial government and its health department for their failure to provide rabies vaccine to public hospitals, saying that two deaths due to a preventable disease in the 21st century were intolerable and unacceptable.

The brother of the deceased told The News that Saleem, a tailor by profession, had just entered his home one and a half months ago when his four-year-old daughter asked him to take her to a shop on the corner of the street for some candies and fries. They were on the way to the shop when a stray dog that was furiously barking at them attacked the girl.

“Saleem stopped the attacking dog with one hand and tried to push the beast away, but the dog bit his thumb. In the meanwhile, some passersby managed to save him from the dog. He was taken initially to the Sindh Government Hospital New Karachi and then to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, but both of them didn’t have the rabies vaccine,” said Saleem’s cousin Muhammad Amir.

Experts say that any person who is bitten by a stray dog should be immediately given immunoglobulin and four to five doses of the rabies vaccine to prevent them from developing rabies encephalitis, which is a 100 per cent lethal and incurable disease.

“This person was probably not given any vaccine after he was bitten by the rabid dog. He got one injection of some medicine that was not the rabies vaccine. After 40 days, this person developed full-blown rabies,” said Dr Seemin.

Health department officials said Saleem’s was the 20th reported death due to rabies encephalitis in Sindh this year, adding that so far more than 200,000 cases of dog bite have been reported in the province, including over 90,000 in Karachi alone.

“The population of stray dogs is rising with each passing day, and many of them become rabid due to their behaviour. Incidents of canine attacks are also on the rise, and now hundreds of people are bitten by stray dogs in Karachi alone,” said Dr Seemin, urging the municipal authorities to rid the people of stray dogs because Pakistan was facing a severe shortage of the rabies vaccine.

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