Thousands of children die from rabies

Cape Town – Tens of thousands of children are dying unnecessarily all over the world from rabies because there is a shortage of funds to vaccinate dogs.

According to the world animal health organisation (OIE) the disease could be eradicated for a fraction of the cost used to treat patients affected by rabies.

Recent figures according to a report by the BBC, suggest that 55 000 people are killed annually form rabies. 40% of those people that are bitten are below the age of 15.

Contraction of the disease occurs when there is exposure to the virus, this normally happens through the saliva or blood of an infected dog or bat.

The central nervous system is attacked and causes the brain to distend or bloat. If the virus is not treated before it gets to the nerves the disease is incurable.

A cure was created in 1885 by Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux.

Preventing the disease in developing regions is difficult and costly, especially in parts of Asia.

Health agencies argue that because some children are so young they may not be able to tell their parents what happened to them, so the death rate may be much higher.

Dr Bernard Vallat, director general of the OIE argued that international funding used to prevent and eliminate the disease by vaccinating the dogs is limited.

Vallat said that vaccinating dogs is more cheaper then treating people who have been bitten and this message needs to get out there, especially to donors.

Many countries respond to rabies, especially in Eastern Europe by rounding up dogs when there is an outbreak and killing them off.

There have been incidents in Romania where there were large scale culls, that were funded by the European Union.

Below is a cat that has been infected with rabies.

Here are some
facts on rabies.

Human rabies occurs in South Africa. There have been outbreaks of rabies in domestic animals in Gauteng, specifically in the Southdale, Lenasia, Eldorado and Dobsonville areas.

Human contraction of rabies can almost always be prevented, even after exposure. Awareness and prompt preventative measures are essential.

Although rabies occurs in a number of Southern African wild animal species; transfer to humans occurs via the bite of a domestic dog or cat in more than 90% of cases.

Symptoms of rabies in an animals include abnormal behaviour, excessive salivation and paralysis, and in humans fever, anxiety, severe muscle spasms and an inability to swallow.

A dog or cat bite should always receive medical attention. If there is a risk of rabies, rabies immune globulin and a course of vaccination must be given.

For more information click here.
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