Dog bites go up in Jammu; treatment marred by expensive vaccines

By Ayushi Malik. Dated: 12/3/2017 12:04:42 PM

4899 cases include 4890 dog bite cases in 2017 till October

JAMMU, December 2: Animal bite cases, particularly dog bites, are on the rise and patterns noticed by medical practitioners reveal that they are increasing every year. The rise in dog bite cases is also directly proportional to the increase in the increasing population of dog bites.
Rabies, a deadly disease which spreads to people from saliva of infected animal, is on the rise reveals Jammu’s year wise data collated by Government Medical College, Jammu. According to this data obtained by Kashmir Times, a total of 17,949 animal biting cases in Anti-Rabies section have been recorded between January 2015 and October 2017. In more than 55% of the cases, source of the bite was stray dogs while in rest of the cases; source of the bite was rat, pet dog, mongoose, monkey, bear or any other animal.
With rabies cases on the rise in Jammu, that adds more fuel to the already existing man-animal conflict. Doctors point out that majority of the dog bites are caused by stray dogs in the city, which brings to light the related issue of the increasing stray dog population.
Anti-rabies section of Government Medical College (GMC) has recorded around 5657 cases of animal bites in 2015, 7393 in 2016 and 4899 cases till October this year out of which 4890 cases in 2015, 6292 in 2016 and 3872 in 2017 (till September) were due to dog bites alone.
While dog bites are on the rise, in some cases there are casualties reported due to a couple of reasons, primarily because the adequate treatment is not followed. Doctors at the Anti-rabies section elaborate the various reasons.
One is the expense incurred by patients on vaccines which is beyond the reach of some. While some cases are treated with TT and Anti Rabies Vaccine provided by the hospital, 75% of the patients require Anti rabies Serum which is to be purchased as it is not provided by GMCH, Jammu because of its high cost. “The rabies vaccine, which is used for Class I and Class II category bites, is available in the hospital, but anti-rabies serum needed to treat animal bite cases categorised as Class III or more critical cases is to be purchased from the market. On being asked about the non-availability of ARS, Dr Dinesh Kumar, Department Of Community Medicine, GMC, Jammu, said,” Due to large number of patients and high cost of serum, the hospital is not able to provide it to the patients as the expenditure would be high.” According to the data, 13495 cases from 2015 to September 2017 required ARS and only 9 registered animal bite cases did not require ARV in the last two years.
Another reason for growing rabies casualties, according to doctors, is lack of awareness about the appropriate ways of treatment. “Most people, especially from rural areas believe in superstitions and hence, instead of reporting immediately to a hospital they use traditional methods to treat dog bite oblivious of the risk of spreading of infection.” Dr Dinesh Kumar said. He recalls,” There was a case from Bajalta area where the patient needed proper treatment but instead, the family opted for ‘thaali charana’, a traditional method believed to treat dog bite in rural areas. After a span of one and a half month, when the patient was finally admitted, he died. He needed immediate treatment.”
Ignorance and lack of awareness among the people is another factor in increased rabies casualties.”The wound should be cleaned with or without soap and patient should report to the nearest hospital as early as possible,” advises Dr Dinesh Kumar.
There is a greater need for serum being provided from GMC as most of the patients come from rural areas or from poorer sections in the urban areas and are unable to afford the serum. Also, due to the lack of organizing awareness programs, people fall prey to superstitions and hence there is greater risk of infection, the doctors say.



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