World Rabies Day to be observed on Sept 28

ISLAMABAD: Like other parts of the globe, World Rabies Day will also be observed in the country on September 28 to raise awareness in public about prevention from this horrifying disease.

The day also marks the anniversary of Louis Pasteur’s death, the French chemist and microbiologist, who developed the first rabies vaccine.

Today, safe and efficacious animal and human vaccines are among the important tools that exist to eliminate human deaths from rabies while awareness is the key driver for success of communities to engage in effective rabies prevention.

Health experts said that rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease which occurs in more than 150 countries and territories. They added dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans.

They said that rabies elimination is feasible through vaccination of dogs and prevention of dog bites.

According to WHO report, infection causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, mostly in Asia and Africa. 40% of people bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age.

It said that immediate, thorough wound cleansing with soap and water after contact with a suspect rabid animal is crucial and can save lives.

The report said that rabies is an infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical symptoms. In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans.

It said that rabies can affect both domestic and wild animals. It is spread to people through bites or scratches, usually via saliva.

Dr Wasim Khawaja from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said that the incubation period for rabies is typically 1-3 months but may vary from one week to one year, dependent upon factors such as the location of virus entry and viral load.

He said that the initial symptoms of rabies included a fever with pain and unusual or unexplained tingling, pricking, or burning sensation (paraesthesia) at the wound site. As the virus spreads to the central nervous system, progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord develops.

He said that the first-aid of the wound included immediate and thorough flushing and washing of the wound for a minimum of 15 minutes with soap and water, detergent, povidone iodine or other substances that kill the rabies virus.