Stray dogs at be vaccinated in 10 ‘hot spots’ across India

Madurai has been selected as one of ten locations in the country for launching a pilot project aimed at controlling and preventing the spread of rabies.

Mission Rabies will focus on the mass vaccination of 50,000 dogs at “hot spots” across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa, Orissa, Assam, West Bengal and Rajasthan.

The UK-based World Veterinary Service (WVS), a non-governmental organisation, has deputed an expert team to India to undertake the vaccination drive from September 1, and is providing fund support as well.

World Rabies Day falls on September 28.

An all-terrain veterinary hospital truck has been shipped from the UK and is on its way to India. “Mass vaccination against rabies in one go is the best way to control it. We will assist the Madurai Corporation in preventing deaths occurring due to dog bites,” Dr. Appupillai Murugan, Senior Veterinary Coordinator, Mission Rabies, WVS-UK, told The Hindu here on Wednesday.

He said Madurai was selected for the pilot project based on data collected on dog bites, rabies deaths and treatment. “India accounts for half of the rabies deaths in the world, warranting vaccination of stray dogs on a massive scale,” he added.

At least 10,000 dogs are expected to be vaccinated in Madurai. The cost of one dose of rabies vaccine is Rs.150.

The project will be implemented by veterinary experts from the UK and India. Neutering dogs is also an option.

Dr. Murugan had a detailed discussion about the project with Collector L. Subramanian on Tuesday.

“In India, we plan to do 20 lakh vaccinations in the next three years. Vaccination of stray and pet dogs will develop antibodies in them and prevent the spread of rabies due to dog bites. Dog bites are responsible for the spread of rabies among humans,” Dr, Murugan said.

The vaccination programme will be carried out ward by ward. A plastic collar will be fixed around the neck of vaccinated stray dogs for easy identification so that if a person is bitten, it can be established whether the dog has been vaccinated or not, he added.

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