Epidemic Diseases hospital 'hound'ed by dog bite cases

1,076 cases of dog bites treated since January 11; 5 rabies deaths

In the wake of an incident, where a rabid dog bit and injured 18 persons at Nanjangud taluk of the district, data shows that the number of dog bite cases are on a rise.

As an indication of the same, dog bite cases treated at Epidemic Diseases Hospital (ED Hospital) in the city has outnumbered the cases of gastroenteritis, which used to be the most common form of disease referred to the hospital, earlier.

A total of 1,076 cases of category - iii bites have been referred to ED Hospital since January 2014, from Mysore, Mandya, Hassan and Chamarajanagar districts. On Thursday alone, 23 cases were referred to the Hospital, following the incident at Nanjangud. In comparison, the number of gastroenteritis cases referred to the hospital during the year has been around 570.

While people from Srirangapatna and Pandavapura taluks of Mandya district are referred due to proximity, patients from Hassan and Chamarajanagar districts have no alternatives, as no other government hospitals in the districts provide medication for category - iii bites.

Bites from animals, that cause rabies are categorised into three, with category-ii and iii requiring medical attention. If ignored, categories - ii and iii bites would lead to rabies, which is 100 per cent fatal. Vaccination is not necessary for category - i bite, as there will be no wound.

Increase

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Dr M Lakshman, in-charge of Dog Bite Unit at ED Hospital said that most of the dog bite cases referred to the hospital are from rural areas. “Dog numbers have increased in rural areas. All programmes to neuter dogs have been restricted to cities and towns,” he said.

He said that even though medication for category - iii bites could be treated at taluk hospitals and Primary Healthcare Centres, a lack of expertise among taluk level medical officers, resulted in most of the cases being referred to ED Hospital. “Moreover, a study conducted by Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences show that most of these officers fear administering Anti-Rabies Vaccine (ARV) and Rabies Immunoglobulins (RI), fearing adverse reactions on the patient,” he said.

Along with training for taluk level medical officers, like ARV, RI too should be included in the National Health Policy so that these medicines are available in taluk centres too, he said.

He said that cases of pet dog bites requiring treatment was less, as most of the pets are regularly vaccinated against rabies. 

“However, irrespective of the dog, people should approach doctors as soon as a dog or other animal that can cause the disease, bites. Only vaccination can prevent fatality in the case of rabies,” he added. 

Medicine

The surge in dog bite incidents has also increased the demand for RI at the Hospital. According to Zahara Mubeen, pharmacist at the Hospital, a couple of years ago, 20-30 vials of immunoglobulins per month were sufficient to treat category iii bites. However, during the past year and a half, requirement for immunoglobulins has increased to 150-200 vials per month, she said. 

She said that there was sufficient stock of medicines available to treat the growing number of dog bite cases. 

In the case of dog bite, both category-ii and category-iii, 0.1 ml of ARV should be injected on both deltoid (shoulder) regions. The dosage should be repeated on the third, seventh and 28th day. RI is injected only in the case of category-iii wounds, and the dosage of medicine depends on the body weight of the individual.

District Health Officer, H T Puttaswamy said that the dogs were erratic and aggressive in breeding season. “This might have triggered the incident in Nanjangud. Even though 18 persons were referred, only four had category - iii  bites and were treated,” he said. 

Deputy Director of Department of Animal Husbandry, Dr Devdas said that neutering of dogs to control their numbers are taken up by concerned local administrations, such as Town Municipal Councils or grama panchayats. “If any local bodies approach us, we are ready to provide technical assistance to control the number of stray dogs,” he added.

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