Srinagar, Sep 27: Around 52593 cases of stray dog bites have been report-ed in the Kashmir for the last nine years, throwing up a major challenge for the authorities to control the menace of stray dogs.
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, Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar.
The highest number of dog biting cases- 7324, were reported in 2015-16 followed by 6984 cases in 2019-20.
Around 6802 cases were reported in 2017-18, 6548(2016-17), 6399 (2018-19), 6041 (2013-14), 4917 (2014-15) and 4798 cases were reported in 2020-21.
An official said the population of stray dogs was on the rise across the Val-ley since the Animal Rights organizations compelled the authorities to stop the poisoning process to kill the stray dogs.
“The authorities took some alternate measures to control the dog popula-tion but the steps could not maintain the pace due to which the population of stray dogs remained unchecked,” the official said.
Head of the Community Medicines Department GMC Srinagar Dr. Muham-mad Salim Khan while referring to the figures said they receive around 4000 cases of dog bites in hospital every year.
“The numbers go up to 6000 at times. Many deaths have occurred because of dog bites. We do not have any data available but around two to three deaths have occurred in the past few years,” he said.
The stray dogs are usually found near the garbage points, giving a tough time to the passersby who usually become the main victim of dog bites.
“The problem lies with people who throw the garbage anywhere on the road. We should develop a civic sense of garbage management outside our houses. We should not throw the garbage anywhere out in open,” he said.
Meanwhile, the department of Union Health and Family welfare, GoI has asked all the states and UTs to declare Human Rabies a Notifiable disease under Clinical Establishment Registration and Regulation Act 2010 or re-spective State Public Health Act or Nursing Home Act.
In an official communication issued to all the secretaries of the health de-partment, the Union Secretary of health and family welfare department, Ra-jeshBhushan has stated that Rabies was one of the oldest recognized Zo-onotic diseases with extremely high fatality rate.
“This disease causes extremely painful deaths where the patient suffers painful spasm and dies of extreme thirst and hunger because of hydro-phobia. This fatal disease is completely preventable by timely and appropri-ate Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP),” he said.
He asked all the health departments to make Human Rabies a Notifiable Disease so that it is mandatory for all government and private health facili-ties (including medical colleges) to report all suspected, probable and con-firmed Human Rabies cases as per the guidelines formalized by National Rabies Control Program.
“Many countries from Latin America, Europe have achieved Rabies elimina-tion and there is global call for Rabies Elimination i.e. Zero Deaths due to Rabies by 2030,” he said.
He said as per WHO estimates, India was endemic for Rabies accounting for 36 percent of the world's deaths.
“The deaths due to rabies are grossly underreported in our country due to various reasons. To address the issue of Rabies in India, the National Rabies Control Program is being implemented in the country since 12th five year plan,” Rajesh Bhushan said.
“Under National Rabies Control Programme, standard case definitions have been formulated for reporting any suspect, probable or confirmed case of Rabies in humans and provisions are made to report human deaths due to Rabies on Integrated Health Information Platform,” he said.
The union secretary of health and family welfare department further said the prevention, control and elimination of Rabies from a geographical area can only be achieved through strong surveillance and disease reporting sys-tem at all levels to guide appropriate public health measures and policy in-terventions. “Hence mandatory notification of all Human Rabies cases is ur-gently required to strengthen the Rabies surveillance to know the disease incidence and accordingly prioritizing public health measures required to be undertaken both in the human and veterinary sector,” he said.
Meanwhile Dr Salim Khan said a Rabies Epidemiology Unit (REU) should be established in Departments of Community Medicine GMC Srinagar and Jammu.
“It will help to have a database of rabies cases and death and shall conduct epidemiological investigation in probable/suspected rabies deaths,” he said.