KARACHI: A rabies patient hailing from Kashmore district was brought to The Indus Hospital (TIH) on Saturday.

Fifty-year-old Naaz Khatoon was bitten on the lower leg by a juvenile dog about three and a half months ago in her area of residence.

This year, 13 people have died of rabies at the city’s two major tertiary care hospitals; six deaths are reported at TIH and the rest at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).

“She has developed hydrophobia and aerophobia (the clinical signs of human rabies) and being provided with palliative care,” said Aftab Gohar, manager of Rabies Prevention and Training Centre at TIH, adding that it’s the third case within this month.

According to him, the family had thought the injury was of minor nature and didn’t seek medical treatment.

“Often people particularly in rural areas don’t take dog bites seriously and rely on home remedies, assuming that they would be fine. But, if they are bitten by a rabid dog, they will develop rabies within a few weeks to months, depending on the bite site and wound’s severity,” he explained.

Last month, four dog-bite victims, two hailing from Karachi, one from Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab and the other from Naushahro Feroze, died of rabies, two each at TIH and the JPMC.

The victims included a six-year-old child from the Garden area and an 11-year-old child from Baldia.

“At times, patients develop rabies because health facilities couldn’t offer them the life-saving rabies immunoglobulin along with the proper doses of anti-rabies vaccine while, in other cases, they just don’t seek medical care,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, the executive director of JPMC, which also saw a rabies death this month.

“There is a dire need for community awareness especially in rural areas that could be created with the help of radio programmes as well as lady health workers,” she said, adding that life-saving messages could also be made part of Friday sermons.

Rabies is completely preventable if the WHO recommendations for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis are followed in time and effectively, which includes washing wound/s immediately thoroughly with soap and flowing water, followed by an effective anti-rabies vaccine series and immunoglobulin.

Last year, at least 15 deaths were reported from rabies; six patients died at TIH and nine at the JPMC.

More than 15,000 cases of dog-bite were reported at both these hospitals last year.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2021

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