Man, son die of rabies after pet dog bites them in Visakhapatnam

Doctors call for greater awareness on rabies, which can be fatal, if ARV is not taken without any delay

Updated - June 26, 2024 03:34 pm IST

Published - June 26, 2024 03:33 pm IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

Representational image of stray dogs, the primary carriers of rabies virus

Representational image of stray dogs, the primary carriers of rabies virus | Photo Credit: K.K. Mustafah

A man and his son died nearly a month after they were bitten by their pet dog, at Bheemunipatnam in Visakhapatnam, bringing into focus once again the need for awareness on rabies, which has no cure once the virus enters the brain.

The victims – Narasinga Rao (59), an RTC employee, and his son Bhargav (28), who was working in the Railways — were bitten by their pet dog nearly a month ago. While Bhargav was bitten on his nose, his father was bitten on his leg. They did not take the anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) immediately as they ruled out the chance of their pet being a carrier of the virus.

But the death of the dog two days after biting them seemingly scared the victims. Bhargav went to the Community Health Centre (CHC) at Bheemunipatnam, and took a dose of ARV. His father, who was a paralytic patient for long, had to be taken to the King George Hospital (KGH) in the city. Bhargav had reportedly missed taking his second dose of ARV as he had to attend to his father at KGH.

The death of Bhargav at the Government Hospital for Chest and Communicable Diseases (GHCC) in the city, a few days ago, and that of Narasinga Rao at the KGH on Tuesday, has shocked those living in Bheemunipatnam. There are quite a few instances of pets going out and mingling with stray dogs.

“There are a number of stray dogs, which chase motorists on the Tagarpuvalasa–Bheemunipatnam main road. The number of pets is also increasing with more and more people taking a fancy to raising pet dogs. Awareness among pet owners on the need to get their dogs periodically vaccinated seems to be very low,” says Ramu, a native of Bheemunipatnam.

“Bhargav came with his mother and took the first dose on May 31 but did not turn up for the subsequent doses. His father has not come to us. Now his mother and relatives are coming to us for the ARV,” Dr. Phani Kumar, Superintendent of Bheemunipatnam CHC told The Hindu on Wednesday.

“Owners do not bother when their pet dogs scratch them with their nails or lick their wounds. These are enough for the rabies virus to enter the blood stream and reach the brain. No wonder, the number of such victims coming to our hospital is increasing, of late,” says Dr. Kalyani, Civil Assistant Surgeon, GHCCD.

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