Marking World Rabies Day, the Human and Animal Health Authorities through the One Health Platform will today 28th September embark on a symbolic vaccination of over 10, 000 dogs and cats across the country.
The Day is globally celebrated on September 28th each year to raise awareness on rabies and celebrate the work of Louis Pasteur, who developed the earliest effective vaccine against rabies.
The theme for this year’s commemoration: “Rabies Facts not Fear” is hinged on the fact that there are a lot of fear, misconceptions and misinformation about Rabies, which the authorities seek to address by disseminating accurate information/messages on rabies through the use of specific channel of communication.
It is believed that through awareness rising, people will be educated on the prevention of rabies through vaccination, especially in animals before it gets to humans, which is easy and cost effective.
Symbolic vaccination of dogs and cats will take place in the 15 district head quarter towns at the District Agriculture Offices and Western Area Urban at Freetown Golf Club and Western Area Rural District Council.
The event is one of the platforms used to help increase awareness on rabies. In 2019 the Government of Sierra Leone launched a nationwide communication campaign to enlighten the public on the risks/dangers of dog bites and rabies.
Rabies is a very serious sickness that both animals and people can get. Though rabies is preventable, it is not curable and can even kill its human victim if early actions are not taken, especially when signs and symptoms of the disease start to show.
In this situation, no medical remedy can help, the victim will die. So, the best method is to first prevent the disease in dogs and cats through vaccination which is easy and doable.
The rabies virus is in the spit of animals like dogs, cats cows, so when they bite another animal or person the rabies virus can enter through the wound created by their teeth or scratch from their paws, even if the bite or scratch is small.
In Sierra Leone, almost everyone who gets rabies gets it from the bite/scratch of a rabid dog.
Pointing out the signs and symptoms of a rabid dog, Mohamed Bah said that dogs with rabies can act differently, adding that some act like they are crazy (krase dog).
It may bite or try to bite other animals or people without being provoked and without fear. Mr. Bah continued that for some dogs they become so quiet and find it difficult to eat or swallow.
“But because dogs with rabies can act in different ways, it’s difficult to know if a dog has rabies without the help of an animal health worker” he continued; adding that, “if you see a dog acting strange or looking sick, it is good to stay away and call an animal health worker, community health worker, or 117.”
When bitten by a dog, it is advisable to wash the bite right away with soap and water 20 times on running water over and over again for at least 15 minutes, for all dog bites/scratch, big or small and quickly go to the nearest health facility.