Over 2000 die of rabies in Bangladesh yearly

More than two thousand people die of rabies in Bangladesh every year, the second-highest toll in the world from animal bites, though the fatalities are preventable through right remedies. “Once infected with rabies death is inevitable, but the fatal disease is totally preventable with the help of vaccines,” said a medical expert in Dhaka on Monday.

Briefing newsmen, senior product manager of Renata, the only company marketing American FDA-approved anti-rabies vaccine in Bangladesh, said nearly 10,000 people take treatment of dog bites every year in the country. Experts say the actual figures of death from Rabies in Bangladesh may be five times higher than the documented figures and this, they said, is due to lack of awareness.

Washing the wound with soap and water for ten minutes immediately after the bite or scratch and applying antiseptics on the wound can reduce the chances of infection by 50 per cent without any cost. Cent per cent remedy is possible if tissue culture vaccine is administered before symptoms occur, experts said, adding that the modern painless vaccines are taken on arms, instead of belly as in the case of painful nerve-tissue vaccines.

Each of five ampoules of the tissue-culture vaccine costs Tk 400 and has very little side effect. Bites from rabies-infected dogs, cats, monkeys and foxes are common in Bangladesh and most cases occur during the months of August and September, the mating season of the dogs. Rabies virus may remain dormant for up to eighteen years, experts warned calling for building up a national movement against the preventable killer disease. Once the virus enters the human body, symptoms of rabies, one of the top ten killer diseases, usually occur in three days time.

In 80 percent cases of rabies, hydrophobia (fear of water) and aerophobia (fear of air) occur while in rest 20 per cent cases it is paralysis. Infected people die a hard death in cases of rabies.

World Health Organization spends more resources for rabies programme in countries like Laos where annual cases hardly reach double figures while in Bangladesh the international organization hardly has any programme.
(The Bangladesh Observer, July 27, 2004)

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