The National Health Profile 2018 which was released recently, shows that over half of India’s Rabies cases are reported from just two states – West Bengal and Karnataka. The report also termed Rabies as one of the most fatal communicable diseases in India, registering a 100 per cent death rate in 2017.
There were 110 rabies cases in West Bengal and Karnataka in the years 2016 and 2017, which is 58 per cent of the total 190 cases reported nationwide. In 2017, 26 people from West Bengal lost their lives to the Rabies infection, while the death count 15 in Karnataka out of a total of 97. In 2016, West Bengal alone accounted for 47 out of 93 cases, while Karnataka recorded 22 cases.
Combining the two years, 73 people of West Bengal lost their lives to Rabies, an occurrence that exceeds that of any other state by almost four times. And the 37 deaths of Karnataka are nearly twice as much of other Indian states, stated the report. Incidentally, India also has the highest death rate of Rabies in the world, with 2 per lakh of the population – nearly 36% of all deaths worldwide.
Rabies is usually transmitted through the inadequately treated bite of street dogs, it accounts for 96 per cent of the cases, 40 per cent of the people affected are usually under the age of 15. However, it can also be transmitted through a cat bite. It is estimated that there are around 3 crore street dogs in the country.
According to WHO, around 59,000 deaths across the globe are due to rabies. Only last month, they called upon its Member States to pump up the efforts to end rabies.
To treat rabies, anti-rabies vaccination should be administered on the day of the dog bite, followed by more vaccinations 3, 7, 20 days after that. Three rabis immunoglobulin injections should also be given within 7 days, to start acting on and neutralising the virus. WHO has also launched a ‘Zero by 30: The Strategic Plan’ to bring down the number of deaths by rabies to 0 by 2030