What you need to know:
- The annual event commemorates French scientist Louis Pasteur, who discovered the first rabies (mild) vaccine in the late 19th Century.
- Victim of rabies presents with fever, headaches, anxiety, hallucinations, paralysis and hydrophobia, resulting in coma and then death.
Today is World Rabies Day, a global initiative to raise awareness of and take action to prevent the disease. This presents a valuable opportunity for individuals, civil society and governments to come together and fight rabies.
The annual event commemorates French scientist Louis Pasteur, who discovered the first rabies (mild) vaccine in the late 19th Century that prevented cases of the disease, saving many lives. This year’s theme, “Rabies: All for 1, One Health for All”, reflects the urgency to fight the viral disease.
Rabies is considered endemic in Kenya with an annual mortality rate of 2,000 individuals. The country is undertaking an initiative to eliminate human fatalities caused by rabies by 2030, starting with specific pilot counties. While 36.4 per cent of the yearly 59,000 human rabies fatalities occur in Africa.
Free daily rabies vaccinations
The RABV virus attacks the central nervous system, causing rabies with catastrophic complications. Genetic diseases may spread across animals. Infected animals bite and transmit it. The virus is spread by most dogs and other household animals. Rabies may kill within a week after an animal bite. The virus penetrates the central nervous system through peripheral nerves and kills the brain.
Rabies symptoms can appear even months after an animal bite. Rescue is then required promptly since therapy is too late. The victim presents with fever, headaches, anxiety, hallucinations, paralysis and hydrophobia, resulting in coma and then death.
Vaccinating pets and raising awareness can prevent rabies. Under the National Rabies Control Programme by the Ministry of Health, free daily rabies vaccinations are given at district hospitals, sub-divisional hospitals and community health centres. Proper wound care is also important after an animal bite to prevent the infection from spreading.
Mr Surjit is a veteran journalist and freelance writer based in Brampton, Canada. [email protected]