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Rabies: Is post bite vaccination necessary?

Increasing awareness of prevention and control in communities, including education and Information on responsible pet ownership can help in eradication of rabies, says Dr Laxmikant Gode

Rabies, a vaccine-preventable viral disease, has almost become synonymous with death as medication is not available in many parts of our country. Thus, dog bite is always taken as a most dreaded disease. However, it is also true that some people don’t take dog bite that seriously and treat it as any other wound. In remote areas, it is treated with local herbs by quacks and trantriks leading to death of the person bitten by a rabid animal.

The urban areas have comparatively more knowledge and people with dog bite go to a doctor for treatment and post-bite vaccination. We all know that an increasing number of families are adopting dog as a family member. They are even taking due care about vaccination, at least in towns and cities. That’s very encouraging and a healthy sign of pet-parent relationship. Villages and small towns, however, are still ignorant about it.

But it is also noticed that few pet parents feel that vaccinating their pet against rabies is sufficient to prevent rabies vaccine for dogs. They feel that if their vaccinated pet bites a dog, a person or any other animal, there is no need for the post-bite vaccination. This is a misconception and needs to be removed. Yes, the chances of getting dog bite with rabies from the vaccinated pet bite is well reduced, but we have to keep few things in mind. If the vaccinated pet roams outside his home and mixes up with local stray dogs, there are chances that he gets bitten by a rabid dog and the bite goes unnoticed. Depending upon the immunity level of the vaccinated pet, rabies may or may not develop. In that case, the victim of the vaccinated pet dog bite should refer to a physician and get treatment as advised by him.

Most of the dog getting vaccines are quite effective in producing optimum antibodies/ immunity in a vaccinated pet. However, cold chain maintenance during transportation and storage affects the quality of the rabies treatment for dogs and pet rabies vaccine immunity production, particularly in remote places. In most parts of India, electricity failure is still a problem. In such cases, the vaccinated dog bite cases should be consulted with the physician and treatment and vaccination should be taken as per his advice. Behavior’s of the vaccinated dog is the key element Not only vaccinating the pet is important, but also due precaution after dog bite should be undertaken to avoid further complications.

Eradication of rabies in India is not that easy as it seems. The increasing number of stray dog Population still poses a grave threat. Present infrastructure to ensure effective execution of the Strategies of prevention and eradication of rabies is still a challenge. Therefore, every pet parent should come forward and take the initiative to contribute to eradication of rabies, more than just vaccination dogs the pet by educating the community.

Eradication of rabies is only possible by involvement and contribution by all strata of society coupled with effective implementation of strategies.

Dr Laxmikant Gode,
Head – Sales and Marketing, Livestock Business Unit,
Zenex Animal Health India pvt Ltd.