3 killed, 135 others hospitalized as rabies invade West Nile

todayAugust 21, 2021

By Federick Dramadri

At least three people have died while 135 others have been hospitalized with rabies in West Nile region. This comes as several districts in the region continue to silently grapple with stray dogs.
Cases have been detected in the districts of Maracha, Madi-Okollo, Terego, Zombo, Maracha, Yumbe and Arua City in the first six months since the beginning of this year, with the most affected are children school below fourteen 14 years.
Dr. Willy Nguma, the principal veterinary officer Arua district says close to 90 dogs have also died.
He says several stray dogs are endangering the lives of residents across the region with urban authorities doing little to regulate their movement.
“These people were bitten by stray dogs that move freely. Vurra and Logiri in Arua district, Oluko, Pajulu, Dadamu, Ayivuni, Manibe and Arua Hill all in Arua City, Offaka and Okollo in Madi-Okollo District, Kijomoro in Maracha District are some of the major hot spots where people are living in fear for their lives. And this because most of the urban authorities are not taking this as a serious thing. There should be a deliberate effort towards limiting free movement of dogs”, he said.
Ismail Drabe Adiris, the Chairperson Madi-Okollo district says so far there is no attempt to vaccinate the animals due to resource constraints.
“Many of our people are not even bothered. For those of us who have pets like the dogs, let us first of all start by controlling our dogs to limit the threats of dog bites. Much as the threats are genuine, really the need of vaccinating the dogs has not come because we don’t have these facilities. For us here there’re no veterinary shops, there is no veterinary officer, we have had few extension workers but we just have to put them in place.” Drabe said.   
Adding: “But we encourage those who have been bitten by these dogs should not hesitate to report to any nearest health facility to save your life”.
Ajilong Bessie Modesta, the Resident District Commissioner Terego blames owners of pets for doing nothing in controlling the movement of dogs, which have become a threat to the livelihood of people.
“We last vaccinated dogs here in February this year but the challenge is that people have poor attitude towards keeping these animals, mainly these dogs are left to look for their own food from home to home and this can easily spread the disease.” Ajilong said.
Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. The rabies virus is usually transmitted through a bite of stray dogs, cats, cows, ferrets etc.
It presents with among others; fever, headache, and nausea, vomiting, agitation, anxiety, confusion, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, hallucinations and partial paralysis.
It is preventable through; vaccination of pets, isolating pets and keeping bats out of homesteads.

Risk factors
Factors that can increase your risk of rabies include; activities that are likely to put you in contact with wild animals that may have rabies, such as exploring caves where bats live or camping without taking precautions to keep wild animals away from your campsite
Rabies kills approximately 60,000 people each year, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, of which 40% of victims are less than 15 years old. Globally, rabies has been estimated to cause 3∙7 million disability-adjusted life years and 8∙6 billion US dollars in economic losses annually.

COVER PHOTO: Stray dogs have continued to worry residents across West Nile. Courtesy Photo.

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