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Rabies Prevention

June 1, 2024

Rabies is considered a deadly viral disease. It poses a threat to human life and its prevention is a crucial public health concern. The Jammu and Kashmir administration has now taken the right step by declaring human rabies a notifiable disease, making it mandatory for all government and private health facilities to report suspected cases to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the concerned districts of the union territory. This move aims to enhance surveillance, ensure timely treatment and prevent the spread of this fatal disease. Rabies is an acute viral disease that affects all warm-blooded animals, including humans and is primarily caused by animal bites. India accounts for a staggering 59.9 per cent of rabies deaths in Asia and 35 per cent of deaths globally. The disease has a high fatality rate, making it essential to take proactive measures for its prevention and control. The notification issued by the Health and Medical Education Department is a step towards rabies prevention. By making human rabies a notifiable disease, the administration has ensured that all suspected, probable, and confirmed cases are reported promptly to the CMO of the district concerned. This will facilitate timely intervention, including post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which is crucial in preventing the disease. PEP, which includes immediate wound washing, vaccination, and administration of rabies immunoglobulin, is highly effective in preventing rabies if administered promptly after exposure. However, delayed or inadequate treatment can lead to fatal consequences. Therefore, it is essential to raise awareness about the importance of seeking medical attention immediately after an animal bite. Education and training of healthcare providers, animal control officers, and the public on rabies prevention and control can help ensure that everyone has the knowledge and skills needed to prevent and respond to rabies cases. Adequate funding for rabies prevention and control programs can help ensure that these efforts are sustainable and effective. A One Health approach that considers the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health can help address the root causes of rabies and prevent its spread. The notification also directs health facilities to share details of cases where a human has died with a history of dog bites a few weeks or months preceding death. This will help in identifying potential sources of infection and preventing further transmission. Leveraging technology such as mobile apps, data analytics, and geographic information systems (GIS) can help enhance surveillance, monitoring, and response to rabies cases. International collaboration and sharing of knowledge, expertise, and resources can help prevent and control rabies globally. Eliminating stray animals through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs or other humane methods can help reduce the risk of rabies transmission. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that all health facilities, both government and private, comply with this notification to prevent the spread of this deadly disease. Additionally, fresh public awareness campaigns and education programmes should be implemented to inform people about the risks of rabies and the importance of seeking timely medical attention after a dog or any other animal bite.

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