AP sets up panel to probe rabies deaths

Seventeen people have died after dog bites in the last two weeks even after the victims had taken anti-rabies vaccination raising suspicion in scientific circles as to whether environment changes had led to mutation of the rabies virus in the state.

“The normal incubation rate is six months between rabid dog bite and exposure to rabies,” says Dr S N Madhusudhan, neuro-virologist at NIMHANS and a WHO coordinator on rabies control. However, some American virologists say that if rabies virus can mutate fast enough, it could cause infection within an hour or two.

Doctors in Andhra Pradesh are perplexed over some of the latest cases of rabies virus like in Khammam where a16-year-old boy died of rabies infection after 25 days of dog bite. In Kakinada, even after being administered anti-rabies vaccine, a victim died after 20 days .

Health Secretary Dr P V Ramesh said in view of the huge number of rabies cases reported from the coastal districts special centres were being set up at Kakinada, Rajahmundry and other coastal cities of Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam for administering rabies vaccine free of cost. “Victims have to take precautionary measure before the symptoms of rabies appear, otherwise it will be too late to help them,” says Dr Ramesh adding that children and elderly are the main victims.

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