In the last four months, four children died of rabies at the Government Children's Hospital in Egmore. The deaths could have been avoided had the parents been aware of the vaccination protocol, say paediatricians.
Children from poor families are often innocent victims and if parents are not advised properly they may discontinue vaccination. When the parents realise that the child is infected with rabies, it is a point of no return for the victim.
“Parents recognise symptoms in an infected child only when it refuses to drink water or gets agitated when a fan is turned on,” said paediatrician N. Rajeswari of Kamakshi Memorial Hospital, who has treated 15 children for dog bites in the last two months.
According to her, children are bitten by street dogs in localities in Pammal and Pallavaram when they are playing or riding bicycles. “Each street has at least seven or eight street dogs,” she said.
Anti-rabies vaccine, which is provided after any animal bite, could cost around Rs. 300. But when it is a confirmed bite by animals carrying rabies then it is necessary to administer immunoglobulin. For immunoglobulin to be provided, the patient must be admitted to a hospital. In a private hospital the entire course could cost as much as Rs. 4,000.
According to P. Jayachandran, director of Institute of Child Health to which the Government Children's Hospital is attached, “Apart from routine procedures like washing the wound area with soap and running water, providing the mandatory tetanus toxide, antibiotics and anti-rabies vaccines, we infiltrate the bite area within 12 hours with immunoglobulin, if it is a serious case. It is administered in the thighs and the deltoid (upper arms) region where absorption will be better,” he said.