Pup Vaccination Practices in India Leave People to the Risk of Rabies — Lessons from Investigation of Rabies Deaths Due to Scratch/Bite by Pups in Remote Hilly Villages of Himachal Pradesh, India


Rabies, a zoonotic disease, kills 55,000 persons every year globally and 20,000 persons in India. Two years back, we learnt of two deaths due to Rabies in remote village Shiv Shankar Garh of Arki block of District Solan and decided to investigate the deaths. Method: A rapid response team was constituted to investigate the deaths. We interviewed the villagers & family to conduct verbal autopsy. A line list of entire population of village and household contacts of the patients, who died, were made along with the line list of dogs and cattle. Results & Discussion: A-month-old stray pup brought home by the family and had caused an abrasion with its toes on the hands of both the deceased on June 2, 2011 while playing. The lady developed paralysis of the arm on July 3, 2011 and 3 days later developed symptoms of hydrophobia. She died on July 9, 2011. Her son had developed hydrophobia 10 days after that and died on July 19, 2011. Assumption that bite or abrasion by a small pup of one month cannot be fatal proved otherwise. Lack of awareness regarding the fatality of even a scratch and lack of knowledge regarding local treatment of the wound & vaccination of both human and pups, were the main reasons for the deaths. While such incidents keep on happening, and the veterinarians in India are refusing to vaccinate pups before three months of age, as pups may not develop immunity before that age, leaving unsuspecting people to the risk of rabies. Conclusions: Humans can be exposed to rabies even by pups below 3 months of age. Recommendation: Pup vaccination schedule in rabies endemic countries like India need revision. Veterinarians and public health experts need to strongly consider vaccinating pups at first contact with humans even if they are less than 3 months of age. A booster to the pup can be given at three months of age with subsequent yearly boosters.

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O. Bharti, V. Ramachandran, S. Kumar and A. Phull, "Pup Vaccination Practices in India Leave People to the Risk of Rabies — Lessons from Investigation of Rabies Deaths Due to Scratch/Bite by Pups in Remote Hilly Villages of Himachal Pradesh, India," World Journal of Vaccines, Vol. 4 No. 1, 2014, pp. 7-10. doi: 10.4236/wjv.2014.41002.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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