Teenager from Shikarpur dies of rabies at JPMC

Updated Jan 03 2020

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A teenage boy from Shikarpur, who was admitted to the Jinnah  Postgraduate Medical Centre in a critical condition after developing  full-blown rabies, died on Thursday, officials said. — Photo courtesy The Indus Hospital/File
A teenage boy from Shikarpur, who was admitted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in a critical condition after developing full-blown rabies, died on Thursday, officials said. — Photo courtesy The Indus Hospital/File

KARACHI: A teenage boy from Shikarpur, who was admitted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in a critical condition after developing full-blown rabies, died on Thursday, officials said.

Shahid Iqbal was bitten by a dog three months ago in Shikarpur. However, he was admitted to the JPMC on Wednesday when lethal rabies had already fatally affected him.

“He died here today,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the JPMC. “He was bitten by a stray dog on his hand three months ago”.

She said the unfortunate victim showed symptoms of hydrophobia and irritability.

The 19-year-old was the first victim of the fatal disease this year, officials in the provincial health ministry said. They added that some 25 deaths because of the deadly infection were recorded last year.

The JPMC, the same day, had received five persons, including three children, from North Karachi who had been bitten by stray dogs. The patients had duly been administered with anti-rabies vaccine.

Overall, sources in the health ministry said that well over 115 people, including women and children, were bitten by stray dogs in parts of Karachi on Wednesday.

Officials at the JPMC said Shahid was provided palliative care at an isolation ward at the JPMC. He was bitten by a dog three months ago, but it seemed he was not administered with the anti-rabies vaccine, according to Dr Jamali.

Rabies encephalitis claimed lives of some 24 persons in Sindh last year. Besides, a six-year-old from Larkana was brutally bitten by a pack of dogs who died at the National Institute of Child Health (NICH) last month.

Dr Jamali said nothing could be done for a person if one developed full-blown rabies. Full-blown rabies is a 100 per cent deadly disease.

She asked people they should get administered a person who was bitten by a stray dog with ARV and immunoglobulin.

With timely administration of vaccine, rabies could effectively be treated.

India, which was the key supplier of vaccine to Pakistan, has significantly reduced it, thus creating a serious shortage of the life-saving drug.

At present, the National Institute of Health produces ARV locally, but it hardly meets the quantity needed across the country.

Officials said the total number of dog-bite cases across Sindh last year was a whopping more than 130,000.

Almost all regions — cities and villages alike — across Sindh are equally affected because of increasing dog-bite cases.

“Hundreds of dog-bite cases are reported in Karachi alone, and the situation is not different from this, or even worse, in other parts of Sindh,” said an expert.

Recently, the Pakistan Medical Association supported the order of Sindh High Court’s Sukkur bench vis-à-vis resumption of stray dogs’ culling to save precious human lives in the province.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2020