About 80 people have been bitten by stray dogs during the past three months in the capital Asadabad and some districts of eastern Kunar province, Public Health Director Asadullah Fazli told Pajhwok Afghan News.
He said the dogs involved in the attacks did not apparently carry rabies but their victims were administered anti-rabies vaccines at hospitals. A person with dog bite should be administered vaccines five times in 30 days, he said.
Hundreds of stray dogs have been killed so far in Asadabad and districts as part of a joint campaign by the municipality, police and the public health department, the official said.
The World Health Organisation estimates that between 40,000 and 70,000 people die from rabies every year across the globe, mostly in Africa and Asia.
Hence, immediate medical help should be sought if bitten or scratched by a dog or a cat carrying the rabies virus. Even pet animals can be dangerous if not vaccinated.
You can become infected if the animal’s saliva enters your body after it bites you or after it scratches you when it has licked its paws or claws. Many mammals such as dogs, cats, monkeys, sheep or goats, can carry the rabies virus. However, the majority of cases result from a dog bite.
Humans can also catch rabies if the infected animal licks fresh scratches or open wounds on your body or licks areas such as the mouth, nose or eyes.
The first symptoms occur between two to eight weeks after the bite and resemble those of a mild flu with fever and headache. The victim might feel some pain around the bite or scratch. In the following days, they may feel disoriented, anxious and sensitive to sound, light and temperature or may develop hydrophobia (fear of water). The condition worsens quickly with seizures, loss of muscle control, hallucinations and the loss of the ability to think and act rationally. Ultimately, total paralysis, coma and death will follow.
Immediately wash the wound with lots of soap and running water. Don’t cover and stitch it.
“See a doctor as soon as possible to get appropriate treatment because a rabid-dog bite can prove fatal,” said Dr Najib Jalalzai of Istiqlal Hospital, Kabul. If the virus has already entered the central nervous system and symptoms have developed, there is no cure.
According to Dr Jalalzai, the rabies virus is so deadly that it kills the infected animal within a few days. This is why the patient must see a doctor immediately. Usually patients will be given shots of human rabies immunoglobulin around the bite to stop the virus from spreading. A course of vaccination will also be administered with regular intervals. It is necessary to complete the course.
Stay away from stray animals. Don’t try to touch them even though they might look cute, and do not provoke them. Rabid dogs may be uncontrollable and aggressive, but this is not always the case as it is often impossible to tell just by looking. Although expensive, a vaccine is available. This increases the time it takes for the virus to enter the nervous system.
Animals carrying the virus can spread it to other animals as well, such as horses and cows. Thus, always be alarmed if the behaviour of your farm animals changes. Infected animals are often aggressive but can also be passive. Because they have trouble drinking and swallowing saliva, there might be foam coming out of their mouth.