ORAL VACCINES FOR STRAY DOGS CAN HELP RABIES
05, Apr 2019
Prelims level : Science and Tech Mains level : Nil
Why in News?
- Vaccines hidden in food for stray dogs could help curb the spread of rabies more effectively than injections, says UN scientists. Oral vaccination approach could help them reach the minimum 70% vaccine threshold needed to minimise the risk of rabies being passed on to people.
- With the recent increase in popularity among Indians of full breed dogs, more and more street dogs are abandoned pets or have bred with pet breeds.
- Although they are widely feared because some carry rabies, for the most part India’s street dogs are not aggressive and will only bite if provoked. Indeed, many are fearful of humans and sadly, the dogs’ fears are well founded.
- India’s street dog population is closely associated with municipal sanitation practices. Because these homeless dogs often survive by scavenging rubbish, exposed garbage means more healthy dogs – and more puppies.
- Ironically, this actually makes the dogs a boon to public sanitation. By scavenging garbage, they reduce perishable waste that could otherwise be a source of contamination for people. And their presence around garbage keeps away other potentially dangerous scavengers, such as rats and mice.
Why does India have a stray dog problem?
- A common characteristic of India’s cities encourages stray dog populations -open garbage. Stray dogs are scavengers, so they rely on garbage on the street as a source of food. India has fewer government and NGO services that deal with stray dogs.
- India has fewer large-scale interventions and organizations to deal with stray dogs. Organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals argue that one of the main causes of dog attacks is stray dog migration and breeding.
- Because of the number of dog attacks reported in the media, people often see strays as dangerous animals that should be killed. Prevalence of an incomplete and flawed understanding of street dogs, their interactions with people, and the risks that may emerge from these interactions. it is logistically and operationally challenging to sterilise 50 million dogs. Unsterilized dogs will always “spill over” into areas where sterilisation has been done. Infrastructure needed for such large-scale surgical interventions do not exist. India has never framed a rational, scientifically valid, and widely implementable dog ownership or population control strategy.
- Rabies is a zoonotic disease (a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans), caused by the rabies virus, of the Lyssavirus genus, within the family Rhabdoviridae.
- It is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain in humans and other mammals. Symptoms include fever, headache, excess salivation, muscle spasms, paralysis and mental confusion
What is Mission Rabies?
- Mission Rabies is a charity which was founded as a project of Worldwide Veterinary Service in 2013 with one aim, eliminate dog bite transmitted rabies through a research driven One Health approach. Since 2015, Mission Rabies is a charity in its own right.
How does Rabies spread through stray dogs? What should be done in the future?
- There are better ways to deal with India’s rabies epidemic than mass killings of stray dogs:
- many animal welfare organizations believe that the spay-and-neuter model — where both male and female dogs are taken from the street, sterilized, vaccinated, and returned to their original area.
- Since sterilized dogs are returned to their original area, dogs will not migrate to and fight over that territory.
- Sterilized females cannot breed, which decreases their aggressiveness.
- Organizations push for increased adoption, which is far less popular in India than in parts of the United States.
- Greece’s collective adoption, where communities and the Greek government collectively care for and treat local dogs.
- A key part of government’s work will be changing the public’s idea of stray dogs in India. promoting the adoption of stray dogs and ensuring that people do not support mass killings. National campaigns by the government can help create this systemic change in the public’s mindset.
- Thus, a multi-pronged approach that addresses these multiple factors is required, and not one that focuses narrowly on managing dog populations.
- effective public health programme to tackle dog bites and rabies will have to include:
- proper waste management underpinned by appropriate infrastructure
- public education and behaviour change with regard to live safely with free-living dogs and what to do when bitten
- systematic and carefully-designed neutering and vaccination programmes.
- Adequate facilities for post-exposure prophylaxis and treatment
- We need to call for holistic town planning. We have to plan for dog walking paths