Dog bites can produce nasty injuries, especially in young children and babies. As well as the obvious injury caused, dog bites carry an extra risk from infectious diseases.
One of the most well known diseases carried by dogs is rabies. Rabies is a virus carried by animals, often it is transmitted to humans after animal bites. As well as dogs, other wild animals such as bats and foxes can also carry the virus. Early signs and symptoms of rabies are general, like a headache, nausea, vomiting and a fever. As the disease progresses, other characteristic symptoms such as excitability and hallucinations occur.
If you suspect you may have come into contact with the rabies virus, it is important to seek urgent medical advice. There is an anti-rabies vaccine that can be given after exposure to reduce the risk of you contracting the disease.
First Aid For a Dog Bite
You can treat a dog bite by following the simple first aid advice below.
Using clean water (with soap or an antiseptic product if possible) wash the wound thoroughly. Make sure to clean the area around the wound thoroughly as well.
Cover the wound with a sterile wound dressing. If the bleeding is severe, elevate the wound and apply direct pressure.
If there is a risk of infection (i.e., you are in a rabies risk area), then get yourself vaccinated for the rabies virus.
If you are concerned that the dog may still be in the vicinity and poses a danger to yourself or other then call the police immediately. Do not try to capture or calm the dog down, as this may result in further injury to yourself or others.
If you are concerned about rabies, you can find a map of areas at risk on the World Health Organization’s website. It is important to follow travel advice when traveling to rabies risk areas; this could include not petting street animals or leaving food in the open.
Stray dogs can be a threat if they have rabies.
Rabies is an invariably fatal viral disease, and represents the most serious potential complication of an animal bite for humans. Nearly all deaths from rabies in humans are the result from the bite of a rabid dog. Though the disease is preventable through timely pre- and post-exposure vaccination, death is inevitable once a person is infected.
According to the WHO http://www.searo.who.int/about/administration_structure/cds/CDS_rabies.pdf.pdf, upwards of 25,000 people die annually in the South East Asia Region, and accounts for 45 percent of reported human deaths worldwide.
Lack of Awareness
More community participation and greater awareness is needed to minimize its risks to public health. Prevention is better than control. One easy and humane way is to simply vaccinate stray dogs.
Low level of awareness of the risk factors has made the problem worse.
More health awareness campaigns should be conducted widely to promote both dog and human vaccination, and reduce preventable rabies cases.
The public is urged to register and vaccinate their dogs in order to reduce the risks, but that could be difficult, given the general lack of awareness.
Getting a dog vaccinated does not cost much, but few owners in rural areas take this important preventive measure, while some veterinary surgeons suspect that supplies of anti-rabies vaccine may be limited.
Many poor people don’t visit a clinic or hospital for a dog-bite. People, especially in rural areas, commonly apply balm on the wounds for normal dog-bites. Others turn to traditional remedies, while in some areas many believe that reciting some a mantra can heal a dog-bite wound.
Which Way Forward?
Culling the dogs regularly is not the solution to the problem.
It’s not the right way.
Vaccinating and sterilizing are the best way to mitigate the risk of rabies, animal lovers say, and are calling for greater understanding and cooperation from the authorities.
Some animal lovers are also doing their best to protect stray dogs from being poisoned, taking the animals into their homes and hiding them when municipal staff come to feed them poisoned meat. Others take them to the dog shelters instead.