Srinagar: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news,” is a famous phrase coined by Alfred Harmsworth, a British newspaper magnate, but also attributed to New York Sun editor John B Bogart and Charles Anderson Dana.
Being no news, the ‘dog bites man’ events do not get the attention they deserve despite the massive scale of occurrence.
The anti-rabies ward at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital received at least 3300 dog bite cases during the last six months.
According to the official figures, these 3300 cases have been received in the first, the second, and the third category from April to September 20 this year.
At the SMHS Hospital alone, a massive 45,808 dog bite cases were reported from April 2015 to September 2022.
The data reveals that over 5469 persons have been bitten by dogs from April 2021 to March 2022.
A total of 4808 dog bite cases were reported at SMHS Hospital from April 2020 to March 2021 while 6139 cases were reported from April 2019 to March 2020, 6397 from April 2018 to March 2019, 6802 from 2017 to 2018, 5832 from 2016 to 2017, and 7061 cases were reported from 2015 to 2016.
According to a dog census conducted by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), there were 49,000 dogs in Srinagar city in 2012-13.
The unofficial census of 2011 put the population of dogs in Srinagar city at over 60,000.
Dr Abdul Hameed, Consultant at Anti Rabies Clinic at SMHS Hospital told Greater Kashmir that the incidences of dog bite cases have shown an increasing trend year by year.
“Our Anti-Rabies Clinic is one of the centers in Jammu and Kashmir where animal dog cases are managed as per the World Health Organisation and National Rabies Control Programme (NRCP) guidelines. We receive animal bite cases from all the districts of Kashmir but mostly from Srinagar and neighbouring districts,” he said.
Dr Hameed said that more dog bite cases in Kashmir were being reported from different districts.
“We mostly receive cases from Srinagar and other districts like Bandipora, Baramulla, and Anantnag. Other districts have their anti-rabies clinics,” he said. “People of different ages including children come here every day for vaccination. We give anti-rabies injections to the patients as per categories. In severe cases, we vaccinate patients along with a dose of rabies Immunoglobin.”
Dr Hameed said that there were three categories of dog bites.
“Category 1 involves licking on intact skin, feeding or touching the animal and in this case, we do counselling of the patients. Category 2 involves patients with scratches, and abrasions without bleeding and these patients need Anti-Rabies Vaccination. Category 3 patients involve multiple bites with bleeding. Rabies immunoglobulin (Anti-Rabies Serum) is administered to Category 3 patients. Both vaccines and immunoglobulins are provided free of cost to every patient,” he said.