The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Perez Omoun, disclosed that Delta state has recorded over 60 incidents and 5 fatalities caused by rabies disease due to dog bites in three months.
He made this known on Thursday in Asaba at the inauguration of sensitisation and campaign against rabies disease in Delta, themed, “All for 1, One Health for All”.
The State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Federal Government and World Health Organisation (WHO) embarked on a road walk against rabies disease in commemoration of 17th World Rabies Day, in Asaba.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and his counterparts in Health, Dr Joseph Onojaeme and that of Environment, Mr Jamani Ejiro, led the sensitisation and awareness campaign.
Omoun said the theme defined the need for the collaboration between the ministries, the Federal Government and WHO.
He further explained that the need was to combat the disease and ensure health for all in the state and nationwide.
He added that given the rising cases of rabies incidents, the state government would soon promulgate a law to regulate ownership of dogs and cats in the state.
According to him, Gov. Sheriff Oborevwori has made it imperative to sustain the annual free vaccination programme for prevention of rabies in dogs with the provision of funds.
His words: “Sadly, the state has recorded rabies outbreaks in Okpanam and Effurun. Five persons have reportedly died of rabies between June and September this year.
“The fatality would have been more but for the swift and timely intervention of the State Veterinary Services Department, Ministry of Agriculture and the one health team of Delta state.
“It is pertinent to note that there are increased cases of dog bites in the state and in order to address dog ownership among others, the state government will soon come up with the dog and cat control law.”
Also the Commissioner for Health, Onojaeme, who lamented the situation, said modalities had been put in place to sensitise the general public across the state.
According to him, the reason for this walk for life is to encourage the people to come out and to know about the rabies that is killing them is very fertile.
“In recent times five people have been reported dead but it is good for the people to know that it is curable if you report to the hospital on time.
“In the last two months, we had reported cases of dog bites in the state, the victims were managed but for those that came late,” Onojaeme said.
On her part, Dr Mildred Okowa, State Epidemiologist, said that the day was usually celebrated to ensure that the people were kept safe from dog bites and rabies diseases.
“Rabies is a zonotic disease, which can be transmitted from animals such as dogs, cats, bats among others to humans when bitten.
“Dogs get the rabies virus when bitten by infected bats, foxes and other animals in the wild during hunting, as you know in Nigeria, we use dogs for hunting animals in the wild.
“So, when an infested dog bites you, even if it is just a scratch, you know will surely come down with the rabies disease and its incubation period ranges from three weeks to three months or up to a year depending on what part of the body the dog bites the victim.
“So, when you are bitten by a dog, it is very important you report immediately to the nearest health facility to get first exposure prophylaxes (treatment).
“This prophylaxes (treatment) is a series of vaccines to prevent you from coming down with rabies following a dog bite.
“This is because rabies is 100 per cent fertile and that means that once the doctor identifies that you have rabies, it may be fatal,” she said.
Okowa urged all dog owners to ensure that their dogs were vaccinated annually, adding that the sensitisation was aimed at averting further deaths due to rabies in the state.
She lauded the WHO for efforts, technical and financial assistance in the control of rabies and other emerging and pandemics in the state.
Earlier, the State Chief Veterinary Consultant and Director of Veterinary Services, State Ministry, Dr Augustine Ojogbo, said that the state vaccinated no fewer than 6,000 dogs as of December 2022.
He said that the 17th World Rabies Day celebration and the inauguration ceremony of the 2023 rabies campaign in the state had a unique theme which emphasized one health for everyone.
According to Ojogbo, the day is basically marked to sensitise, create awareness and educate the public on the dangers, prevention and control.
The day, according to her, also marked progress made in the fight against the rabies for possible global eradication in humans and animals in 2030.
He said that the state veterinary was ready to contain the disease, while encouraging people to avail themselves of the expert services available at various centres across the state.