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Kerala :19-year-old girl died a month after dog bite, probe ordered

- June 30, 2022

Thiruvananthapuram, June 30 (BPNS)

A month after getting bitten by a dog and being treated for rabies, a 19-year-old girl passed away in the early hours of Thursday.

The deceased is Srilakshmi, of the Mankara area of Palakkad district. It was on May 30 that the dog bit her when she was on her way to college. She was studying for a Bachelor degree in Computer Application (BCA) at a college in Coimbatore, where she was a first-year student. At the same time, the health department launched a probe following reports that the death was a result of vaccine failure.

As per reports, Srilakshmi took an anti-rabies vaccine. Though she did not show any symptoms initially, upon developing the same later she was first taken to a private hospital in Mankara in Palakkad. She was then referred to Thrissur medical college with a high fever two days ago. The hospital then said that she had all the symptoms of rabies and began treatment for the same. However, Srilakshmi passed away on June 30.

To examine the matter in detail, state health minister Veena George ordered the health services director to conduct an inquiry. In addition to that, a rapid response team headed by the Palakkad district surveillance officer will also examine the incident.

Meanwhile, what puzzles the health officials is that though the dog bites its owner as well as an elderly lady, their conditions are normal.

At the same time, data available with the health department shows that a total of 13 confirmed rabies cases got reported in the state in 2022 to date and those who succumbed to it were also 13. In 2021, 11 confirmed cases and 11 deaths were reported.

Rabies is a viral zoonotic disease that causes progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. It’s also a vaccine-preventable viral disease. Rabies virus is present in the saliva of rabid animals. Upon biting, scratching, or licking on broken skin (cuts/ abrasions) and intact mucus membrane, the virus enters the body.

According to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), rabies is responsible for extensive morbidity and mortality in India. The disease is endemic throughout the country. About 96% of the mortality and morbidity are associated with dog bites. Cats, wolves, jackals, mongooses, and monkeys are other important reservoirs of rabies in India. Bat rabies has not been conclusively reported in the country.

In 2021, a National Action Plan for Dog Mediated Rabies Elimination from India by 2030 was launched by the NCDC.