Kirinyaga launch Vaccination drive against Rabies

Kirinyaga County has launched a major vaccination exercise to prevent the spread of rabies disease in the County. The county says that there has been a surge in the number of stray dogs and cats thus necessitating urgent vaccination drive.

The annual exercise was launched yesterday by County Executive Member for Agriculture and Livestock Development Dr. John Gachara at Kangai Ward in Mwea Constituency. Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. Gachara said the exercise which targets to vaccinate about 5000 dogs and cats across the county is aimed at protecting the residents from the killer disease. “The County government will roll out the vaccination campaign across the 20 wards to ensure no area is left out in the efforts to safeguard the locals from the fatal infections,” he added.

In many countries, dogs and cats carry rabies. However, most rabies deaths in people around the world are caused by dog bites. In some countries like United States, rabies is mostly found in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. Director Livestock, Veterinary Services and Fisheries Dr. Richard Gichangi says rabies is a neglected zoonotic disease that is nearly always fatal in humans if appropriate preventive measures are not taken after exposure.

Research shows that globally, it causes approximately 60,000 deaths annually mainly in developing countries with one person dying of rabies every 10 minutes. More than 95% of human deaths occur in Africa and Asia- and children below 15 years of age are at the greatest risk of rabies exposure. “Rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death,” said Dr. Gichangi.

Dr. Gichangi added that the County is carrying out a sensitization campaign in all the 20 wards so as to ensure the exercise is successful. He said though rabies cannot completely be eradicated, its spread can be stopped through continuous vaccination of pets. “If anyone is bitten by a dog, we urge the residents to thoroughly wash the infected areas with clean water and soap as a first aid measure before they rush to hospital to avoid spread of germs to other parts of the body,” he added. Gichangi urged the locals to turn up in large numbers for the exercise to ensure the animals are safe.

Resident thanked Governor Anne Waiguru’s administration for the interventions to ensure their safety. A similar vaccination exercise for Foot and Mouth disease targeting livestock is expected to start in May.

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