The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued guidelines for all the health departments for declaring Rabies a notifiable disease.
The guidelines were issued on eve of World Rabies Day observed on September 28, a global health observance started in 2007 to raise awareness about rabies and bring together partners to enhance prevention and control efforts worldwide.
In the guidelines, the GoI has stated that in a view to address the issue of Human Rabies it was required to establish a strong surveillance system so that exact magnitude of disease can be assured.
“This will help to develop strategies as per regional conditions to achieve the WHO goal of zero deaths due to Human Rabies by 2030,” read the guidelines.
The official document further states that to ensure that Rabies is recognized as a priority disease, Rabies must be made notifiable nationally to promote awareness and vigilance.
“This will strengthen the surveillance system and ensure a more accurate evaluation of the rabies burden and its preventive measures in an area,” it reads.
The union health and family welfare department while referring to the 7th meeting of the Standing Committee for Zoonosis convened by the Chairman Dr. Jagdish Prasad on December 20 states that the Rabies should be identified as Notifiable disease.
“Surveillance data will also provide public health professionals with critical information to make informed decisions about saving human lives,” the official document reads.
It reads that the health authorities in several countries issue notifications to investigate possible exposures and organize post-exposure prophylaxis, quarantine and other disease containment measures.
“Rabies reporting and notification are also of value for the rapid identification of foci and the implementation of control measures if needed,” it reads.
The government of India has said the diseases like rabies were highly infectious and fatal and affected multiple sectors including domestic animals, wildlife conservations, public health, modern services and livestock economies. “Therefore it is important to make sure rabies does not spread,” it said.
The guidelines further say that issuing notification will facilitate contact tracing and prompt prophylactic measures to prevent infection in other people exposed to the same source.
“It will also aid in prompt identification of the emerging rabies foci in animals and interventions to curtail the spread of disease to other animals and humans,” the document reads.
Notably, around 52593 cases of stray dog bites have been reported in Kashmir for the last nine years. As per the official figures available with the department of Community Medicines, Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, around 2780 dog biting cases have been reported this year (January to September) alone at Anti Rabies Clinic SMHS hospital which is run by the department of commu-nity medicine, GMC Srinagar.
The highest number of dog biting cases- 7324, were reported in 2015-16 followed by 6984 cases in 2019-20.
The GoI has stated that the objective of notifying the Rabies was early and effective implementation of containment and preventive measures and to ensure early diagnosis and case management of Human Rabies.
The GoI in its guidelines has impressed upon the concerned department of animal husbandry, local self government and Panchayat raj institutes to identify the rabid animal and do its laboratory confirmation if feasible.
“The Rabid animal should be put in isolation, identification of any other sick animal in locality should be also done besides taking up mass canine vaccination in identified areas,” read the guideline.