Ghana Records Rise In Rabies Cases

There is an upsurge of rabies in the country, the Director of Veterinary Services Directorate, Dr Philip Salia, has revealed. He said between January and September this year, 70 dog bites had been recorded in Accra, with six deaths. He, however, said figures from across the country was unavailable because of lack of funds to build a database for rabies. World Rabies Day forum Speaking at a forum to mark World Rabies Day in Accra yesterday, Dr Salia blamed the incidence on the unwillingness of pet owners to vaccinate their animals and the continuous presence of too many stray pets. The forum was aimed at raising public awareness of the disease, its effects and preventable measures. The day was observed on the theme “Together against rabies”. In Ghana, 25 human rabies deaths were recorded between January 2009 and July 2011. Dr Salia noted that majority of the cases went unreported to parents or health officials. Dr Salia said despite the high fatality and the prevalence of the disease, the government and other stakeholders had not given it the required priority. Previously, control methods including free dog vaccination and stray dog removal had been intermittent but could not be sustained owing to inadequate funds. He said the department did not have adequate funds to embark on such key preventive measures even though it was cheaper than rabies treatment. According to him, although rabies was treatable, most affected persons did not survive it. Dr Salia called on the public to treat all dog bites and scratches as suspected rabies cases until confirmed otherwise.