Dog bites remain a burden for communities in Arua

Monday September 27 2021
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Veterinary officials vaccinating a dog in Adjumani district recently. PHOTO | FILE

By Felix Warom Okello

Residents of Vurra Sub-county and other parts of the district have been asked to vaccinate their dogs in order to curb cases of rabies because of the increasing burden of dog bites.

The communities have not been taking initiative to vaccinate their dogs, which had become a health threat due to the dog bites. 

Speaking this morning ahead of World Day Against Rabies slated for Tuesday in Arua, the LC5 Chairman, Mr Alfred Okuonzi, said: “Rabies is preventable but our communities do not want their dogs to be vaccinated. This is endangering the lives of people and even other animals.”

He said they would need to formulate by-laws that will be enforced to control animal movements. “People here do not chain or construct houses for their dogs. They just allow them to stray around and this has caused problems for communities in the past. This must stop if we are not to experience dog bites in communities,” he said.

Arua will host the World Rabies Day on Tuesday at Vurra Sub-County.  Rampant cases of rabies were reported in the district in the past.  

According to Arua District Veterinary Officer, Dr Willy Nguma, 187 cases of dog bites were reported from January to August this year. This, he said, was high because they receive between 25 to 35 cases of dog bites monthly.

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“The school children are mostly at risk because they account for 75 per cent of the cases that we have registered and they remain vulnerable. This is the trend we need to reverse with more sensitization on vaccination of these dogs,” he said.

He said every two months, they receive one death case of humans after the dog bites. Arua has 11,700 dogs out of which 2,873 are stray dogs in the communities.

The Senior Veterinary Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Dr Emmanuel Isingoma, said communities need to be sensitized about rabies, as it is preventable. 

“We have a target of eliminating rabies by 2030 where we hope to vaccinate 70 per cent of dogs in the coming years,” he said.

Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. The rabies virus is usually transmitted through a bite. The symptoms of rabies include fever, headache, excess salivation, muscle spasms, paralysis and mental confusion.

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