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Three deaths in a month, rabies still a concern

By Ishita Dave

Bengaluru, Sep 12, 2016: Epidemic Diseases Hospital (EDH) in Indiranagar saw three deaths due to rabies in the last month. Of these, two were from rural Karnataka.

In 2016, a total of 16 cases have been reported at the hospital till September 9, which is double the number of cases than were reported in all of 2015.It is the highest in the last five years.

Chandpasha, a resident of Mudalapalya in Bangalore, was admitted on August 4 following fever and nausea after a dog bite. Tests conducted confirmed rabies, after which he was kept in the isolation ward in EDH. He passed away on August 5.

Mohammed, a resident of Indiranagar, is another patient who was bitten by dogs twice. He said that he had rushed to the hospital quickly as the dog had bitten two others in the same week. 
Kemperaju from Tumkur district and Veera Shetty Bhangoor from Bidar district were also admitted in EDH for rabies but could not be saved.
Shruti D, an intern at EDH said that most cases of rabies that were reported at their hospital resulted in deaths in the next few days.

Mr Thippeswamy, Senior Specialist, OPD at EDH said that rabies had been an issue of concern since years. He further added that a lack of awareness about rabies caused delay in patients going for treatment. Rural areas, in particular, he said stigmatize the disease which leads to ignoring the problem and even avoiding vaccines.

Stray dogs in Bangalore have been a cause of concern for pedestrians and motorists alike. In 2016, 1430 cases of dog bites were reported at the EDH.Indiranagar ,Domlur ,Hulsoor, Jeevan Bheemanagar etc. are some of the areas where the problem is severe.

To tackle this issue, the Animal Birth Control and the Anti-Rabies vaccination program was started by the BBMP. As a part of this program, dogs are picked up from the streets if a complaint is lodged, vaccinated and sterilized and then left at the same spot from where they were picked.
However, this program’s effectiveness is being questioned now. This year only 952 dogs have been sterilized as compared to 35,261 sterilizations last year.

As can be seen from the data provided by EDH, a rise in the number of rabies cases can be seen. Mr. Thippeswamy said that a further rise in the number of rabies cases could be reported with some NGO’s opting out of the BBMP program.

Mr. Shekhar, who works with Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), one of the five NGO’s responsible for carrying out these sterilizations, says their NGO was working their best to make the city rabies-free but recently the effectiveness of their work had suffered because of a lack of funds from the government. He said even though their NGO was working fine, others could feel the pinch of increased expenditure.

Mr. Sreenivas, Senior Health Inspector said that they planned to open more sterilization centres soon. However, he refused to answer questions about funds or the number of rabies cases registered in 2016.



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