Pune: Dog Bite Cases Highest in Four Years, Rabies Deaths Also Increasing

stray dogs in Pune
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Pune, 23rd February 2023: Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) records show that there were 16,569 dog bite cases in Pune in 2022, the highest in the last four years. The number of deaths due to rabies has also increased.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths, with up to 99 percent of all rabies transmissions to humans caused by dogs.

The PMC claims to have adequate stocks of anti-rabies vaccine and offers it for free to every dog bite victim. The PMC has 45 outpatient departments and 18 maternity homes, all of which have the vaccine. In 2021, there were 15,972 dog bite cases, in 2020 there were 12,734 cases while in 2019 there were 12,251 cases.

There were 19 deaths due to rabies in 2022, 14 in 2021, 3 in 2020, 12 in 2019 and 17 in 2018. This year there has been already three deaths due to rabies.

Dr Sarika Funde, veterinary chief of PMC, clarified that not all cases registered as dog bites are technically dog bites, as cases of scratch or licking are also included in the category.

Despite the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme, the city has seen a surge in the stray dog population, leading to a rise in the number of dog bite cases.

According to Dr Sanjeev Wavare, assistant health chief of PMC, citizens should learn to live peacefully with animals, as dogs do not bite unless provoked or panicked.

Recent incidents of dog attacks on children in Hyderabad and Vadgaonsheri highlight the need for urgent action. The ABC programme needs to be enforced effectively to control the animal population and reduce the number of dog bites.

In the case of a grade three animal bite, the WHO recommends that a complete schedule of the anti-rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin be given as soon as possible after the bite. Tetanus injections, antibiotics, and analgesics may also be required. All grade 3 bites should be infiltrated locally with immunoglobulin. Since rabies is 100 percent fatal, when in doubt about vaccine doses and schedules, over-treatment is better than under-treatment.

Preventing dog bites is feasible through the vaccination of dogs and the prevention of dog bites. Citizens can play their part by avoiding provoking dogs and learning how to live peacefully with animals.

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