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Biting dogs make news in City

21,900 dog bite cases have been reported in eight months in Bangalore alone

‘DOG bites man’ is no news. But when an estimated 21,900 dog bite cases are recorded in just eight months, now that’s news!

While a majority of these cases were reported to government hospitals, 8,650 cases were brought to BBMP hospitals and referral centres.

Lady Curzon and Bowring Hospital and K C General Hospital get nearly 20 to 30 fresh cases every day. According to Dr Vishwaradhya, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, “We got 129 dog bite cases between July 27 and August 26. All were administered the anti-rabies vaccine,” he added.

RIG only at KIMS
Dr Vishwaradhya said that they get about three to four cases every month who need Rabies Immunoglobulin (RIG) – an anti-rabies serum – and they are referred to Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS). “The RIG is given only in KIMS. Hence we refer patients there,” he said.

KIMS, which has an anti-rabies clinic, has treated 1,250 dog bite cases since January 2009. “We require RIG for more than 50 per cent of the cases. Out of these, majority opt for Equine RIG as it is cheaper. There has been no significant reduction in the dog bite cases,” said a doctor at the Institute.

The hospital receives referral cases and in February alone, 223 cases were recorded. Majority of the victims are children, as they are easy targets, the doctor said. Victoria Hospital has treated 2,634 dog bite cases from January to July 2009.

BBMP drive
After some dog bite incidents created public rage, the BBMP started the Prevention and Control of Human Rabies Project in January 2009. The project aims at providing anti-rabies vaccines and collating a database of dog bite incidents. Project Head Dr Manoranjan Hegde revealed that they recorded 84 dog bite cases till August 16, which are “cases only from BBMP Hospitals and referral hospitals.”

Meanwhile, Dr S N Madhusudhana, Additional Professor at Department of Neuro-virology, said that they only received patients who suffered from paralysis due to rabies. “We rarely get rabies cases, perhaps three or four in a year. Patients who have rabies are sent to the isolation wards of the Epidemics Disease Hospital at Old Madras Road,” he said. 

Interestingly, the Epidemic Diseases Hospital received about 12 rabies infected persons since January and all have succumbed to it.

Rabies Immunuglobulin
The Rabies Immunoglobulin is a post exposure rabies prophylaxis, which, if administered along with anti-rabies vaccine, reduces the chances of a person contracting rabies. In fact, it should only be given along with the vaccine and was recommended by WHO in 1966.

However, the indigenous RIG or anti-rabies serum is only given to patients, who come under Category III – bites and scratches in hands and head, and multiple wounds. Now, the RIG, which is a component extracted from the blood is acquired from humans as well as equines (horses). In fact, Equine RIG is more in use because it is cheaper than Human RIG and can be obtained in larger quantities.

Despite this, Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India (APCRI) states that the popularity of the Equine RIG is as low as 2 per cent due to less awareness and physicians fearing side-affects. However, Equine RIGs are now highly purified and have negligible side-affects.

In fact, the latest victim of the dog bite, two-and-a-half year old Rehana, was given Equine RIG. Explaining the price difference, a doctor in KIMS said: “The RIG dosage is measured on the basis of the patient’s weight. For instance, if a person weighs 60 kilos, he/she will have to pay Rs 24,000 for Human RIG, while the Equine RIG costs Rs 900.”

Scary statistics
Dog-bite cases as collated by the Palike

Month         Cases
January        737
February      547
March         1125
April            1080
May            1692
June           1956
July             1429
August           84

(Published in Deccan Herald)

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