Suspected rabies outbreak in Sarpang

The Chuzaygang Basic Health Unit (BHU) in Sarpang is seeing an increasing number of patients fearing a rabies outbreak. Around ten people came in for check up at the BHU after being in contact with a carcass of a rabid dog starting from 24th June onwards.

It is reported that the rabid dog also bit three cows in Norbuling under Sershong Gewog. The cows are placed under quarantine. A health official at the BHU said that another four cows suspected of being infected with rabies are kept under observation. The four cows’ handlers are also being observed.

Due to the suspected rabies outbreak, nearly 40 people have taken the anti-rabies vaccination and are kept under observation.  The number of people visiting hospital continues to rise after the news of rabies outbreak.

The Royal Center for Disease Control is studying all samples sent to them. Meanwhile, there is a temporary ban on consumption of dairy products and contact with animals in the area. The people are advised not to send their animals out to graze in the eight clustered regions in the dzongkhag.

The dzongkhag livestock officer, Ugyen Dorji, said that extensive measures have been taken to prevent such outbreaks, but Sarpang shares borders with India, and it is possible rabies was spread by infected animals across the border.

“The dogs usually stick within their particular boundary, but once they get infected with rabies then they tend to cross the boundary and contact with other animals or human, so that’s one way how it’s spread,” said the livestock officer.

According to the National Centre for Animal Health, an annual average of 17 outbreaks has been occurring in animals, mostly in southern parts of the country. Only two human deaths have been reported between 2012 and 2017 due to rabies.

Dzongkhag health officer, Tshering Penjor, said that immediate awareness program and vaccination drives are being organized in the dzongkhag by health officials supported by the livestock department in the gewogs.

He said it is important to get an immediate check up in the hospital if a person has been exposed to the rabies virus. “It can even be transmitted if one comes to close contact with the rabid animal or take any dairy product of the infected cattle,” said the health officer. He added that full blown rabies is not curable.

According to health experts, rabies can be contracted through a bite from a rabid animal or through scratches, abrasions, open wounds or mucous membranes in contact with saliva or brain tissue from a rabid animal. Any infected animal should be disposed off carefully once it’s dead.

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