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Chennai: Stray dog who bit 29 people tests positive for rabies

The dog was later beaten to death. Now, in the medical examination, it is found that the dog has tested positive for rabies.

On Tuesday (21st November), a stray dog on GA Road in Chennai bit 29 people in two hours. The dog was later beaten to death. Now, in the medical examination, it is found that the dog has tested positive for rabies.

Dr J Kamal Hussain, veterinary officer of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCP), said, “We will get the official report soon, but we have already received information that the test result is positive. The dog was infected with rabies.” The remains of the dog were previously forwarded to Madras Veterinary College for a post-mortem examination.

GGC commissioner J Radhakrishnan, who is also a veterinary doctor by training, said, “In the last two days, we have caught 31 dogs from this locality and they will be under observation. The injured have been given anti-rabies immunoglobulin medication. And they have also been given an anti-rabies vaccine.”

Apart from the 29 individuals, including five children, who were bitten on Tuesday night, a handful of others suffered injuries while trying to escape from the dog and falling on the road. The wounded individuals were admitted to Government Stanley Medical College and Hospital. Those attacked by the dog received initial doses of the anti-rabies vaccine, with the second dose scheduled for Friday. The corporation stated that these individuals are under close observation.

According to Dr Hussain, there are five Animal Birth Control (ABC) groups in the city, and this year alone they captured around 17,000 dogs for sterilisation and vaccination. In this month, 1242 dogs were captured, and 1007 surgeries for animal birth control were conducted.
The GCC is strategising to engage NGOs in conducting a comprehensive census of stray dogs within the city and implementing large-scale sterilisation measures.

Arun Prasanna, the head of People for Cattle In India (PFCI), an NGO, claimed that the municipal body’s actions fell short of even the basic requirements. He emphasised that events like the one on Tuesday only serve to instil panic among the public. He said, “It is unfortunate that so many people were bitten by the dog. The animal was then beaten to death. If a dog bites more than three people, then it means it is rabid. It is the infection that makes the animal go insane. I do not blame the public (for hitting the dog), but it was the corporation’s responsibility.”

What is rabies

Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The RABV virus infection is the root of the ailment. The virus infects the central nervous system of mammals which ultimately results in brain disease and death. It causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans and other mammals.

Rabies was historically referred to as hydrophobia (fear of water) due to the symptom of panic when presented with liquids to drink. It is spread from the saliva of infected animals. The majority of rabies in the United States are linked to skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes. However, dogs continue to carry the rabies virus in many other nations, including India, and dog bites are the leading cause of rabies-related deaths in humans worldwide.

The animals most likely to spread the rabies virus to people include pets and farm animals like cats, cows, dogs, ferrets, goats, horses and wild animals like bats, beavers, coyotes, foxes, monkeys, raccoons, skunks and woodchucks.

The epidemic of rabies in India

The number of human deaths globally due to dog-mediated rabies is estimated to be 59,000 annually. India is responsible for 36% of rabies-related deaths worldwide, according to the statistics of the World Health Organisation. The National Rabies Control Programme recorded 6644 medically suspected cases and fatalities of rabies between 2012 and 2022. Recent cases of rabies death which got wider media attention were from Meerut and Ghaziabad.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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