As the number of rabies cases rises across the province and deaths due to rabies are being highlighted in the media, the Sindh government has decided to start the mass culling of stray dogs.
In a directive dated September 18 and addressed to the mayor, municipal commissioners and town authorities, the government asked them “launch an effective and well-coordinated campaign regarding the culling of stray dogs” in their respective areas.
As per the notification, the matter was deemed “top priority”.
The decision comes in the wake of reports of anti-rabies vaccine shortages at health facilities across Sindh and the increasing number of deaths due to the disease. So far, 13 people have died due to rabies.
Supplies of anti-rabies vaccines have been short as imports declined following suspension of bilateral trade with India, who was the main supplier of the vaccine.
Most people are not aware that rabies is a contagious disease, Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of Jinnah Medical and Postgraduate Centre, told SAMAA TV. She said there was an urgent need to create awareness in the community.
“If someone is bitten, they should wash the site with water and immediately go to a medical facility where ARV is available,” Dr Jamali advised.
Delaying treatment could prove to be fatal, she said, referring to the recent case of a boy’s death in Larkana. If the vaccine wasn’t available at one centre, go to other centres until you receive treatment, she urged.
The incubation period—the time it takes for symptoms to develop after exposure— for rabies is around four weeks, Dr Jamali said, after which there was no cure for it anywhere in the world.
She also said anyone who had come in contact with a patient with rabies needed to get a preventive vaccine as soon as possible.