June 24th 2017

Society / Health & Science

Often confused with malaria, Rabies kills more Kenyans than widely recognized

“Due to the ignorance twelve per cent of human rabies cases have been confused for cerebral malaria,” added Kahariri.He was however optimistic that the disease could be contained noting that this had worked around the Serengeti area.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 23 Sep 2016 17:51 EAT

Vaccinating dogs is the surest way to prevent rabies.

Kenya is preparing to marked the World Rabies Day with alarm being raised over the high number of people dying from rabies in Kenya every year. The Kenya Veterinary Association (KVA) says over 2,000 people mainly from the poor rural communities die annually from the disease which is 100 percent preventable.

The chairman of KVA, which is the professional voice of veterinarians in Kenya, Dr Samuel Kahariri, says that rabid dogs are the main source of the disease, whose prevalence is unchecked due to limited vaccination of dogs, lack of education and the improper maintainence of medical resources for interventions.

The chairman said rabies kills about 60,000 people worldwide every year, with approximately 95 percent of the cases being reprorted from Africa and Asia. Domestic dogs are responsible for the maintenance of rabies in Sub-Saharan Africa, transmitting up to 99 percent of the cases occurring in human beings.

"Rabies is a neglected Zoonotic disease which is invariably fatal in humans, livestock and other mammals,” he said, noting that children were especially vulnerable to the diseases.

He was speaking ahead of the commemmoration of World Rabies Day, whose national activities in Kenya will be held in Mombasa on September 28. KVA is spearhead the programme.

The World Rabies Day seeks to raise awareness about the impact of human and animal rabies, prevention and control and elimination of the disease in animals and humans, Dr Kahariri said.

The doctor added that rabies continued to kill more than many other diseases that the world focused its greater attention on.“Unlike the deaths from big-name diseases, each of the rabies deaths is 100 per cent preventable,” he added.

The chairman added that like many other neglected diseases, rabies was easily missed by the surveillance systems and easily dismissed as an insignificant public health problem.

He noted that because the disease affected the marginalized and poor communities, it remained relatively invisible attracting little attention from policy makers.

“Due to the ignorance twelve percent of human rabies cases have been confused for cerebral malaria,” added Kahariri.He was however optimistic that the disease could be contained noting that this had worked around the Serengeti area.

“Controlling rabies in dogs around the Serengeti National Park has resulted in a substantial reduction in the disease among wildlife,” he said.

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