Mission Rabies 2013 aims at vaccinating at least 50,000 dogs

Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram are among the 10 ‘checkpoints’ that have been identified for a mass canine vaccination programme in the country. ‘Mission Rabies 2013’ aims at vaccinating at least 50,000 dogs across the country within a month.

The initiative is being led by the U.K.-based Dogs Trust and World Veterinary Service (WVS). It will be conducted in association with the Indian Veterinary Association (IVA) - Kerala Chapter with guidance from the Animal Welfare Board of India. Kottayam Nature Society will collaborate with the efforts in the district.

According to Dagmar Mayer, Senior Veterinary Coordinator of the programme, the country accounted for about one-third of the reported human cases of rabies. “The medical sector of the country had successfully eliminated polio through a house-to-house approach. A similar approach was required for eradicating the threat of rabies. This can be made possible only by ensuring vaccination for all dogs,” Dr. Mayer told The Hindu . The incidence of rabies has remained comparatively lower in Kerala than most other States. Official statistics obtained from the Directorate of Health Services reveal that there have been only 10 cases of rabies infections reported in the State during the period from May 2011- February 2013. There have been 1.07 lakh cases of dog bite during the same period. “However, the possibility of an outbreak of the rabies disease cannot be ruled out at any cost. There is need for sustained disease-control programmes to prevent such occurrences,” added Dr Mayer.

A common sight

P. Biju, Surgeon at the Veterinary Dispensary at Arpookkara here and the district president of IVA, said that large groups of stray dogs were usually seen around garbage heaps and was a common sight in the State. According to a study, the stray dog population in the Kottayam municipal area is between 83 and 209. In the Thiruvananthapuram city, there are between 2982 and 4358 stray dogs.

In addition to the checkpoints in the State, the drive will also cover Goa, Madurai, Erode, Nagpur, Bhubaneswar, Ranchi, Midnapur, Bikaner and Guwahati. While the programme will cover the regions in South India from September 1 to 14, it will later move to the remaining checkpoints to culminate at Guwahati on September 28, the World Rabies Day.