Menace of dog bite must be dealt with seriously

IT IS an alarming piece of news that the number of people suffering from feral dog bites across the country has shot up in recent times with a rise in dog population in the absence of sterilisation. As New Age reported on Monday, quoting from the records of the Infectious Disease Hospital at Mohakhali, about 200 victims of dog bite from the capital and nearby areas are taking treatment each day. The disquieting fact is that in the first seven months of the current year, approximately 1,20,880 victims took treatment at government hospitals, 71 per cent of whom died as they visited hospitals after contracting rabies from the bite. IDH acting director’s observation that the IDH is lacking modern facilities to treat rabies patients is, therefore, disconcerting. According to the director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease control and Research, there is no alternative to vaccinating the dogs immediately as 95 per cent of dog bites cause rabies.
The stray dog population has swelled in the capital and elsewhere in the country due to a ban on culling of dogs and suspension of their sterilisation. As such, it is very common now to find more than eight dogs in each pack perambulating on the lanes across the country. It is, in reality, these dogs that bite children for nagging them. It should be pointed out, in this connection, that at least 42 per cent of dog bite victims are children, mostly boys under 15. To forestall that kind of a situation the government should take precautionary measures to treat patients of dog bites with care, equipping hospitals with modern facilities for even treatment of rabies.
Under the circumstances, it comes down to heightened public awareness of not only dog bites but also rabies that victims might contract after getting bitten by dogs. After all, heightened public awareness and subsequent demand for action are imperative to force the government out of its indifference to this increasing incidence of dog bites and the victims’ subsequent affliction by deadly rabies. Notably, greater responsibility devolves upon the local government to take measures for sterilisation of stray dogs to check the growth of dog population. The ministry of health also cannot shirk its responsibility to take expeditious steps for mass vaccination of about 12 lakh dogs in the country to free Bangladesh from rabies in no time, besides giving adequate treatment to dog bite victims including providing anti-rabies vaccines to them free of charges. The government also must launch awareness campaigns about dog bite and its subsequent affliction, cures and even its prevention.

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