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Rabies menace in Andhra: 8 deaths in a month

May 25, 2011 10:52 AM IST India India

Hyderabad: Rabies outbreak has been terrifying villagers in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Eight people have died of rabies in the district in the last one month alone and the government hospital is seeing an unprecedented demand for anti rabies vaccine. Unfortunately, health officials have not been able to do much to calm their fears.

A dog may be a man's best friend, but the menace of rabies have made the villagers in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh terrified of the animal.

One of the rabies victims' wife Nagamani said, "My husband succumbed to rabies. We didn't know what to do after he was bitten. The hospital also didn't have enough vaccines for all of us here."

State health officials say the annual death toll from rabies is more than 40. The state sets aside 10 per cent of its health budget for fighting rabies. This year, a shortage of vaccine has made things worse.

Andhra Pradesh Health Secretary PV Ramesh said that lack of awareness is one major issue. "But then we also have to remember the superstitious beliefs and people's faith in local healers that add to the trouble," he said.

Following are a few things that people can do to prevent rabies in their neighbourhood:

- If you have a dog, immunize it against rabies.
- Avoid confrontation with stray dogs
- If you get bitten by a dog, make sure you take all four doses of ARV

After the recent spurt in deaths, the state government has finally assured a full stock of anti-rabies vaccine in all government hospitals along with instructions to district municipalities to act on the stray dog menace. But given the previous years' tolls, the concern is whether the recent deaths may also end up more as a statistic than a lesson.