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Table of Contents
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 51-52

Stray dog menace fuelling rabies in India: what can be done?

1 Department of Surgery and Radiology, College of Veterinary Science, SVVU, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Department of Veterinary Public Health, College of Veterinary Science, SVVU, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication26-Mar-2019

Correspondence Address:
R V Suresh Kumar
Department of Surgery and Radiology, College of Veterinary Science, SVVU, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JCSR.JCSR_42_18

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How to cite this article:
Suresh Kumar R V, Babu A J. Stray dog menace fuelling rabies in India: what can be done?. J Clin Sci Res 2018;7:51-2

How to cite this URL:
Suresh Kumar R V, Babu A J. Stray dog menace fuelling rabies in India: what can be done?. J Clin Sci Res [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Oct 14];7:51-2. Available from: http://www.jcsr.co.in/text.asp?2018/7/2/51/254983

Rabies continues to be a major public health problem worldwide.[1],[2] Globally, about 61,000 people die due to rabies annually;[3] one-third of these deaths occur in India.[4] Further, the incidence of rabies in India has remained unchanged for the past decade.[5] General lack of knowledge regarding preventive measures has been thought to be the reason for rabies continuing to be a public health problem in India.

While insufficient dog vaccination, inadequate knowledge regarding post-exposure prophylaxis and irregular availability of rabies vaccine in primary healthcare facilities, especially in rural areas, are the issues to contend with the menace of uncontrolled canine population, the presence of legions of large numbers (25–26 millions of unprotected stray dogs) in human dwellings constitute the important reasons for rabies continuing to be a public health problem in India.[2],[5]

Dog bites are becoming common not only in rural but also in urban areas in India. Aggressive nature of dogs, attacks on human population encroachment into the residential areas of towns are related to many intricate factors.

The reasons for this phenomenon include the following. Increase in stray dog population in spite of regular animal birth control operations; feeling of social insecurity among the dogs in their environment; lack of rescue centres for orphan dogs result in the appearance of dogs on roads, apartments surroundings, in front of shops and around dust/garbage bins and no provision of rehabilitation of diseased dogs (cancer, geriatric, handicapped and suffering from viral/bacterial/parasitic infections) are frequently seen. Irrational disposal of food packets/animal waste in residential areas, in the vicinity of mutton shops and open hotels is common.

Natural fear/evasion/apprehension of people towards stray dogs provokes people to throw stones, beating with sticks augment biting tendency as a protective measure and provoking the attitude of children/youth instigating dogs' wild behaviour are important concerns.

Availability of open areas gives scope for dogs to settle at one particular area, reproduce and increase their population and it eventually leads to legions of stray dogs. Further, for daily procurement of food, dogs quarrel among themselves resulting in dog bites. Psychological behaviour of dogs resulting in dog bite menace includes aggressiveness and irritability. Pheromones are chemical substances responsible for behavioural changes, aggression and fear-related attitude, among others. Lack of exercise, behavioural changes and hormonal disturbances; changes in diet, behavioural changes during breeding seasons, poor socialisation of dogs in addition to poor understanding of dogs' behaviour and apprehensions among public result in conflict between dogs and humans.

Canine rabies control has the potential for enormous public health importance not only in reducing the number of human rabies deaths but also the demand for costly post-exposure prophylaxis. Control of animal rabies has broader societal impacts, with benefits for both human and animal populations. Rabies is a disease that elicits great fear and distress, both as a result of uncertainties faced by those requiring post-exposure prophylaxis in impoverished and remote rural communities and as a result of the psychological trauma involved in managing human rabies cases. More recently, rabies has become a concern for the tourism industry with travel advisories due to the reintroduction of rabies or on-going endemic disease. Imported cases of human rabies, although rare, highlight a continuing lack of awareness among travellers of the disease risk in canine rabies-endemic countries. Impacts of animal rabies control include animal welfare, with improved attitudes and treatment of dogs, and benefits for wildlife conservation, with mass dog vaccination, recommended as part of conservation strategies for wild carnivore populations threatened by canine rabies. Awareness of the multiple benefits of animal rabies control not only provides added justification for rabies control initiatives but also broadens the constituency for support, offering the potential for developing integrated control measures that involve veterinary public health, tourism, wildlife conservation and animal welfare agencies. The following steps can be followed in this regard.

There is a need for creating awareness among public/youth/children regarding the cleanliness of surroundings to provide hygienic environment in the society.

There is also a need for creating awareness among dog owners regarding periodic vaccination of their pets against rabies and other zoonotic diseases. Providing regular vaccination for stray dogs during animal birth control operations for both male and female dogs as a continuous programme involving voluntary organisations, shelter/rehabilitation/treatment to prevent mass appearance of dogs and grouping at residential places is also required.

In addition, there should be collaborative planning of medical, veterinary and environmental specialists to tackle the problem.

The effort initiated by the Government of India in rolling out the National Rabies Control Programme[6] is a timely move for effecting rabies control. A multifaceted approach for human rabies eradication for implementing the preventive measures is necessary to achieve the World Health Organisation goal of reducing the number of cases of dog-mediated human rabies to zero by the year 2030.[5]

  References Top

Soni V, Verma S. Rabies in India: Where do we stand? Trop Doct 2018;48:253.  Back to cited text no. 1
Kole AK, Roy R, Kole DC. Human rabies in India: A problem needing more attention. Bull World Health Organ 2014;92:230.  Back to cited text no. 2
World Health Organization. WHO Expert Consultation on Rabies: Second Report. World Health Organization Technical Report Series 982. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2013.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sudarshan MK, Madhusudana SN, Mahendra BJ, Rao NS, Ashwath Narayana DH, Abdul Rahman S, et al. Assessing the burden of human rabies in India: Results of a national multi-center epidemiological survey. Int J Infect Dis 2007;11:29-35.  Back to cited text no. 4
Bagcchi S. India fights rabies. Lancet Infect Dis 2015;15:156-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
National Rabies Control Programme. Available from: https://www.nhp.gov.in/national-rabies-control-programme_pg. [Last accessed on 2018 Mar 18].  Back to cited text no. 6


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