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Elderly man dies from full-blown rabies after refusing vaccination

Fourteen persons have so far died due to rabies encephalitis at three Karachi hospitals since January 1, 2021

June 18, 2021
Stray dogs. File photo
Stray dogs. File photo

A 60-year-old man who refused to get himself vaccinated after being bitten by a stray dog in the Korangi district of Karachi some 45 days ago died due to full-blown rabies or rabies encephalitis at the Indus Hospital early on Thursday morning, officials said.

“A 60-year-old male patient, Abdul Hameed, was brought to the Indus Hospital last night with full-blown rabies having hydrophobia, aerophobia. Bitten on the leg about one-and-a-half months back in Korangi, he didn't visit any hospital and just applied home remedies. He developed symptoms three days back and died early Thursday morning,” an official of the hospital told The News.

He said that with the latest death, five persons had died due to rabies encephalitis this year at the Indus Hospital, where they had treated and vaccinated over 4,500 people with the anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) and immunoglobulin.

“There is no dearth of anti-rabies vaccine and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment at the Indus Hospital. Only those people are developing rabies encephalitis who don’t get themselves vaccinated after a dog-bite or who don’t complete the course of vaccination and treatment,” the official said.

Fourteen persons have so far died due to rabies encephalitis at three Karachi hospitals -- Indus Hospital, Civil Hospital Karachi and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) -- since January 1, 2021, officials said.

During the same time, over 20,735 people have been given emergency treatment and complete course of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which includes the anti-rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin, which is given immediately after the dog-bite incident around the wound.

Officials at the Civil Hospital said they had received the highest number of dog-bite cases – 11,535 -- till May 31, 2021. They added that all these patients, who were mostly women and children, were given the anti-rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin at the health facility.

“Two of the victims of the dog-bite came with full-blown rabies at the CHK this year, who probably did not got the PEP treatment for the dog-bite and died as nothing can be done for a person after the development of rabies encephalitis,” Dr Tariq Sohail, a senior physician dealing with dog-bite cases, told The News.

He said that last year two people had died due to rabies encephalitis while 17,340 people had been brought to the health facility for the PEP treatment. In 2019 no death occurred at the CHK due to full-blown rabies, while 31,482 people had been bitten by stray dogs and given emergency treatment and vaccination.

“In 2018, we had one person who had developed full-blown rabies while 38,721 people were brought to us after having been bitten by stray dogs and given emergency and PEP treatment,” Dr Sohail added.

The JPMC has witnessed the highest number of deaths due to rabies encephalitis this year so far, where seven patients have been provided hospice care after developing full-blown rabies, Executive Director JPMC Dr Seemin Jamali said, adding that they had so far treated and vaccinated over 4,700 people after dog-bite incidents.