Dogs’ Bite; Vaccination & Precautions

By: Tehniat Khan

Recently my family had bad experience when my younger brother who is about 18 years old became victim of a stray dog. The dog bit my brother on his left foot and badly injured the fingers. We washed the wound and without wasting any time took him to the Red Crescent Hospital, located in Latifabad unit 6 but the administration came with an excuse of unavailability of vaccine.

We took him to Bhittai Government hospital next and heard the same excuse. We were suggested to go to Civil Hospital as it’s the only hospital, having vaccine.  We went there and after the check-up my brother was vaccinated. We were charged 800 for the single dosage. Although it is a government hospital but we had to pay.

The failure of governments in devising a national strategy for decreasing number of dogs and proper treatment of dog-bitten patients has resulted in a big loss of human lives over the years. About 150,000 people are injured by the stray dogs, while an amount of people dies due to rabies every year in the country or by locally made anti-rabies vaccine. Talking about dogs in Sindh, the majority of the people had been bitten by stray dogs. Vaccination is only available at some big hospitals of the cities. According to a survey, 10 to 12 cases are reported daily. 90% of the victims are bitten by stray dogs whereas 70% of them have severe wounds.

The first aid is critical in these cases. Before the victim is taken to a hospital, the wound should be washed with flowing water and soap thoroughly. The wound should be left to bleed because it helps to prevent infection. Spirit or tincture of iodine should also be applied. The wound should then be covered lightly with a gauze and tape. In such cases a doctor should always avoid stitching because it seals virus in the body and it spreads. If the wound is too big, the doctor should go for loose stitching.

The poor residing in urban areas may find some relief as there are organizations; working for welfare. The situation is alarming in rural areas. For instance Badin is amongst the worst hit areas in the terms of dogs and snake bite cases. A similar situation exists in Khairpur. Voicing concern at the apathy of the higher authorities, Shahab-Uddin Sheikh, EDO Health Khairpur, says, ‘The NIH vaccine is always in short supply. If we ask for 200 vials, we are not given even 50. The imported vaccine is very expensive, so there should be a separate allocation for life-saving drugs.’

 The efforts towards preventing disease should be initiated by targeting stray dogs, the main source of infection. Though it's cruel to kill animals, unfortunately, it is the only workable option. However, it is also necessary to make people feel that they should avoid provoking stray animals and they must teach children not to annoy stray dogs. After all there is some sense in 'letting sleeping dogs lie.