Study sought into rabies deaths after vaccination

Doubts about the quality of serum and whether it is being properly administered

October 10, 2021 07:13 pm | Updated 07:14 pm IST - Kozhikode

A proper study has been sought into the recent deaths due to rabies among people who are vaccinated against the infection.

The latest case is that of a seven-year-old boy from Kasaragod district who died on October 7, more than three weeks after getting the first dose of the vaccine following a stray dog bite.

According to sources, similar cases have been reported from across the State, including in major government medical college hospitals.

K.K. Purushothaman, Professor of Pediatrics, MES Medical College, Perinthalmanna, told The Hindu on Sunday that rabies is a fatal infection in which the chances of death are 100%. Patients are given four to five doses of the anti-rabies vaccine in intervals from the day of the bite, along with anti-rabies serum.

If the bite happens somewhere in and around the head and neck, it may affect the brain very fast. The virus may spread and lead to problems as the vaccine-induced antibodies may take time to reach the protective level. “The vaccine gives full protection only 14 days after it is administered. The serum, in the meanwhile, ensures temporary protection,” Dr. Purushothaman said. Taking the patient to the hospital at the right time is also important. The boy in Kasaragod was given three doses of the anti-rabies vaccine and the anti-rabies serum. He died before getting the fourth dose.

“If deaths are happening even after the patient is administered the vaccine and the serum on time, there is something wrong somewhere. It may be due to the bad quality of the serum, or the manner in which it is transported to the hospital and stored. People who are administering the serum may not be doing it in the right way as well,” he said.

Dr. Purushothaman said that the government authorities should take these issues seriously.

“There is a need to verify the quality of the serum. The healthcare workers need better training too,” he added. It is learnt that the Health Department is collecting data on similar incidents from various districts.

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