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Pune: Rabies research lab unveiled at NIV with aim to prevent deaths

Rabies kills around 60,000 people annually worldwide, with India accounting for 20,000 of these deaths.

Rabies continues to be a major public health burden in India, expert speakers said during a webinar organised by the National Institute of Virology, Pune, on Tuesday on the occasion of the 15th World Rabies Day (September 28).

The disease kills around 60,000 people annually worldwide, with India accounting for 20,000 of these deaths. Though rabies is completely preventable with vaccination, the general awareness about the disease remains quite low, leading to deaths.

A global call for action, called ‘Zero By 30’, has been initiated by the WHO and other agencies for eliminating dog-mediated human rabies deaths by 2030.

A rabies laboratory, set up at NIV, Pune, was dedicated to the nation on the occasion by Prof Dr Balram Bhargava, secretary, department of health research and director-general of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Several experts in the field of virology, including Dr Priya Abraham (director, NIV), Dr Nivedita Gupta (scientist and In-Charge of virology unit of ICMR), Dr Pradip Awate (state surveillance officer, IDSP, Maharashtra), Dr Reeta S Mani, (additional professor of neurovirology, NIMHANS, Bengaluru), Dr Anita Mahadevan (head, department of neuropathology, NIMHANS) and Dr Sudhir Patsute (medical superintendent, Dr Naidu Infectious Diseases Hospital, Pune) delivered talks on various aspects of rabies.

Several scientists, medical faculty, researchers and students from all over India attended the programme. It is expected that the new laboratory would help in enhancing rabies surveillance in the country and strengthen the battle for eliminating human rabies deaths, an official statement from ICMR-NIV has said.

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