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Rabies scare puts tribal area under surveillance

17-year-old girl, with no instance of dog bite, dies

The Health Department has put a tribal area in Piravanthur under close surveillance after a 17-year-old girl from there died of rabies, triggering panic among the residents.

Reportedly, the victim was first taken to a local medical facility when she developed disorientation and later she was brought dead to a hospital. Her pathological autopsy revealed the presence of negri bodies, showing the girl was infected with rabies. “A team from Health Department visited the area and it was also decided to vaccinate all close contacts. Since the victim had said she was not bitten or mauled by any dog, she must have contracted the infection through an open wound. On Sunday, we vaccinated 27 persons,” said Deputy DMO Dr. R. Sandhya.

No specific reports

Since there has been no report of any stray dog in the area going berserk, the department approached the local body to deploy dog catchers. “There are two types of rabies—dumb and furious. In the first type, the dog will try to attack humans. But if it is dumb rabies, the animal will seem lethargic without any fear of humans. Since we have not identified the dog, all strays should be monitored.”

While Rabies immunoglobulin is available at hospitals including Kollam District Hospital, all 16 health blocks in the district has Intradermal Rabies Vaccination (IDRV). Humans can contract the virus through non-bite exposures. “If an open cut is exposed to the saliva of a rabid dog, you will get it. You will experience a prickling sensation at the site of the bite leading to loss of appetite and muscle spasms. Get medical help early,” she adds. Due to faulty implementation of Animal Birth Control programme, stray dog menace has increased since some years in Kollam.

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