A massive anti-rabies vaccination and information campaign has been launched in Trashigang town and the nearby villages after a rabies virus was reported in a stray.
The dzongkhag’s livestock department tried the Human Rabies Immunoglobulin, the most expensive rabies antibody or vaccine, on the dog, described to be drooling and panting. The stray bit a woman and died two days later.
A Rapid Response Team (RRT) comprising officials from NCAH, RLDC Khangma and Trashigang dzongkhag were formed to conduct mass vaccination and public awareness education as per the National Rabies Prevention and Control Plan guidelines. A strategic control measures have been implemented by RRT.
“There are people who tried to kill two dogs during the Rangjung outbreak but we would like to request the public to refrain from doing such act and cooperate with us,” said the dzongkhag veterinary officer, Jamyang Namgyal. “We have framed short term as well as long-term strategies to prevent the spread of the disease. The officials will capture and keep the suspected rabies dogs under observation and also isolate the already affected dog from the rest of the dogs.”
Doctor Jamyang Namgyal said the outbreak is a major concern for public and dzongkhag officials. The dzongkhag is expecting Animal Welfare Officers to help them deal the issue.
Official records show that 3,156 dogs and cats were vaccinated indicating coverage of 98 per cent. “It is possible that some stray dogs could have been left out during mass vaccination. So we are planning to carry out another anti rabies vaccination campaign,” a livestock official said. “A Rapid Response Team will be formed for it.”
According to National Center for Animal Health (NCAH) officials rabies is common in border areas like Samtse, Phuentsholing and Gelephu but there has been sporadic outbreak of rabies in Trashigang with the first case reported in Merak and the other in Rangjung last October where four human and three cattle were bitten.
Livestock officials said towns and villages across the country are full of strays that are not vaccinated and highly susceptible to rabies. The constant movement of dogs from town to village also posed challenges in vaccination.
“The mass dog vaccination should be conducted in every town and village,” Dr Jamyang Namgyal said.
As per official records, 2016-2017, 32 dogs (29 stray dogs and 3 pets), 9 cattle, 1 cat and 15 human cases were reported.