Gambia registers 567 Rabies victims in 2017

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Available data at the Health Management Information System has indicated that number of dog bites registered in the country’s health facilities between January to September 2017 is 567 with high episode recorded in the Western Health Regions 1 and 2.

Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Permanent Secretary Muhammed Lamin Jaiteh said available data indicates that globally, Rabies kills 1 person every 10 minutes and 95 percent of the Rabies cases are from bites of dogs with the Rabies viral disease. “The disease is 100 percent preventable through vaccination of up to 70 percent or more of dog population in a country or a community.” 

Mr. Jaiteh made the revelation at a symposium and celebration of World Rabies Day organized by the Department of Livestock Service [DLS] in collaboration with partners at the DLS office in Abuko.

Officials say Rabies is a disease that can be transmitted from one infected animal like a dog or a cat bite to human. The theme of the celebration was: Rabies; share the message. Save a life. The ceremony also witnessed the vaccination of some dogs to reduce the disease in the country and there is hope that similar vaccination will be conducted country wide.

Director General of Department of Livestock Services Dr. Abdou Ceesay said September 28 has been set aside to reflect on zoonotic diseases as a major human and animal health and welfare disease.

He said World Rabies Day was set up in 2007 to raise global awareness about rabies and to provide information on how to control and prevent the disease, noting that in other words, the day was conceived as a day of education and action.

Dr. Ceesay said Rabies remains an under-reported and neglected zoonosis; a disease that he said can be transmitted from animal to human with a case-fatality rate of almost 100 percent in both human and animal. 

“Rabies is 100 percent preventable with the available tools and proven approaches. Dog vaccination is the most cost effective single intervention to protect humans from Rabies as only 10 percent of the cost of PEP will cover Rabies elimination in dogs.”

Musa Humma, Permanent Secretary 1 at the Ministry of Agriculture said the celebration is an opportunity to sensitise Gambians about the importance of understanding Rabies as a zoonotic disease.

He declared that his ministry, through its technical department responsible for veterinary services is committed to the global strategic plan to prevent human death from dog-transmitted Rabies by 2030.

He said the disease can be prevented through increased awareness, vaccinating dogs and the provision of life-saving post exposure prophylaxis and post-bite for people. 

Author: Momodou Jawo