Rabies, the most dreaded of all the communicable diseases that humans can get from animals, needed to be controlled through effective dog population management and widespread immunization programmes , Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today said.
First-aid availability, management of animal bites, pre and post-exposure prophylaxis, dog population management and laboratory diagnosis are the aspects to be addressed for eliminating rabies, Azad said at the inaugural session of the two-day 8th National Conference of Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India.
Rabies, which is invariably fatal, has been endemic in India since time immemorial and though the exact figures are not available even today, it is believed that around 20,000 people die of this disease every year, he said.
The dog population which was 18.8 million according to the 1982 census, rose to 19.7 million in 1987 and is now estimated to be 25 million and most of the canines are unprotected against the disease.
Rabies cases are seen throughout the year, almost two thirds of the victims are males and about 40 per cent are children under 14 years, he said.
"It is sad to note that 99 per cent of all human rabies deaths occur in the developing world.
"Although, effective and economical control measures are available, their application in developing countries is hampered by a range of economic, social and political factors," he said.
A major factor was the low level of political commitment to rabies control and lack of accurate data on the true public health impact of the disease, he said.