Srinagar: More than two deaths annually, over 52000 bites in eight years and the paradise goes to dogs!
Canine terror is sending shock waves across Kashmir. Figures released by Anti Rabies Clinic at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital, reveal that 52, 594 persons have been bitten by the dogs from 2013 to September 2022. Of whom 2780 people were bitten from April to September this year.Figures reveal that 6041 dog bite cases were reported to SMHS hospital in 2013-14, 7324 in 2015-16, 6548 in 2016-17, 6802 2017-18, 6399 in 2018-19, 6984 in 2019-20 and 4798 in 2020-21.
Experts blame the ever-rising population of stray dogs in the valley. Coupled with the dumping of the poultry and other wastes in the open spaces, the dogs are having field day given the availability of the food.
“Increasing dog population is the major cause. People throw household waste in the open and dogs thrive on it,” said Professor S. Muhammad Salim Khan, head department of Community Medicine at Government Medical College, Srinagar.
According to a dog census conducted by Srinagar Municipal Corporation, there were 49000 dogs in Srinagar city in 2012-13. The unofficial census of 2011 put the population of dogs in Srinagar city at 32000. Around one lakh poultry birds are slaughtered every day which generates 40000 kilos of waste that caters to the food need of the stray dogs.
“We suggest that Rabies Epidemiology Unit (REU) be established in Departments of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Srinagar, so that we have a database of rabies cases. We can conduct an epidemiological investigation in probable/ suspected rabies deaths,” said Dr Khan.
Sensing the gravity of the situation, the central government has now made rabies a notifiable disease. “As per WHO estimates, India is endemic for rabies accounting for 36 percent of the World’s deaths. However, the deaths due to rabies are grossly underreported in our country due to various reasons. To address the issue, National Rabies Control Programme (NRCP) is being implemented in the country,” said Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, union ministry of health and family welfare, in a letter to states and UTs.
Under NRCP, standard case definitions have been formulated for reporting any suspect, probable or confirmed case of rabies in humans. “Provisions are made to report human death due to rabies on integrated health information platform,” Bhushan said.