Date: Thu 11 Oct 2018
Source: Tehran Times [summ., edited]
Rabies, an infectious viral disease spread to people through animal bites, imposes a health economic burden amounting to IRR 1.8 trillion (about USD 42 million) on the country annually, head of zoonotic diseases department at the Ministry of Health has said.
Zoonotic means infectious diseases that are spread between animals and people. "Over the past year, more than 180 000 individuals have suffered a significant animal bite throughout the country," ISNA quoted Behzad Amiri as saying.
Bites by stray dogs accounted for 90 percent of the cases reported last year, and 40 percent of individuals bitten were children under 15 years, Amiri lamented. "Despite the high number of animal bites, the number of people infected by rabies or deaths related to the disease in the country is less than 10 persons per year. Of course, even less than 10 cases are unacceptable, and we will work along with the World Health Organization to zero the human rabies caused by dog biting by the end of 2030," he added.
There are more than 700 rabies treatment-and-prevention centres in the country, Amiri said, adding, if a person has been bitten by an animal, he or she will refer to these centres and undergo preventive measures, which is why the rate of rabies in the country is very low.
Amiri further explained that plans are being implemented in the country to prevent the disease; when a person refers to a treatment center due to an animal's bite, the person will receive an anti-rabies vaccine; in cases of the animal not being available, we are obliged to complete the vaccination cycle (4 doses of vaccine and anti-rabies serum) for the individual.
"The total cost incurred for both anti-rabies vaccine and anti-rabies serum is reported to be about IRR 10 million (nearly USD 240) per patient, and with 180 000 people bitten by infected animals last year , it cost us some IRR 1.8 trillion (about USD 42 million) for treatment of the patients," he explained, adding that vaccination and equine rabies immunoglobulin are free of charge in Iran.
Amiri went on to note that to eradicate rabies in the country, a stray dog's bites must be avoided, adding, in this regard, a legislation or act to control stray dog's population is required.
In the past, wild or domestic animal bites were more likely to occur in rural areas, but this is already happening in the cities due to the growing population of stray dogs in urban areas, he concluded.
[The theme of the recent World Rabies Day, 28 Sep 2018, was "Rabies: Share the message. Save a life." It focused on rabies endemic countries to increase community awareness of the disease and its prevention. The above posting, and in particular the items from Malawi and Vietnam, illuminate the difficulties on the road to achieving the set goal of global canine rabies eradication by 2030. - ProMED Mod.AS]