News, Northern Bahr el-ghazal

Over 600 dog bites cases recorded

By Ngor Deng Matem

Over 600 cases of dog bites have been recorded in Northern Bahr El Ghazal state (NBGs)-Aweil between January and July 2023, the National Ministry of Health has disclosed.

One Health Surveillance Officer, Santino Ngong Garang, revealed that some people are feared dead due to rabies manifestation and its 100 percent fatality in the late stages.

“In July alone, 15 people were reported bitten by a suspected rabid stray dog at Wedwil,” Ngong said.

He added that other people are reported to have returned to their residence without vaccination because of the high cost of the human anti-rabies vaccines at private facilities.

Northern Bahr El Ghazel state health authorities decried the lack of rabies vaccines available at government facilities.

Dogs are social animals. They are best friends to humans and provide security, but sometimes they can be aggressive and bite humans and other animals too, such as goats, sheep, and cows, among others.

“Children are more likely to be bitten by dogs than adults because of their small sizes and inability to understand dogs’ temperament or stress level,” Ngong explained.

The health officer further described the effects of dog bites.

“A dog bite can interrupt the normal skin layer and introduce pathogens into the person’s body, such as bacteria that cause infections like rabies, tetanus, capnocytophaga, or sepsis. There are long-term psychological effects associated with it,” Ngong said.

The health professional said a dog bite, if not immediately treated, can result in other diseases such as rabies.

“Rabies affects warm-blooded animals with fur. Anyone can tell the rabid dog from its aggressiveness; it will drool more than normal and try to bite anything along its way, while others may act timid and move abnormally slowly,” Ngong lamented.

He advised the public to prevent dog bites by staying away from stray dogs, avoiding playing with a dog that is eating or feeding puppies, avoiding running away and screaming from approaching dogs, moving slowly and calmly, and never leaving young children unattended.

To treat the person bitten by a dog, Ngong said to immediately and carefully wash the bite site with clean running water and soap, place a clean cloth over the injured part if it is bleeding, and seek a doctor’s advice.

Victims are also asked to be mindful of questions like, Is the dog’s owner known? Was it vaccinated up to date? And other medical conditions.

For his part, James Dut, a clinician working with one of the pharmacies in Aweil town, said some pharmacy owners in Aweil complained of the high cost of procuring the anti-rabid vaccines.

“Even if we stock the vaccine, the victims of dog bites or other animals associated with carrying rabies are unable to afford to buy the vaccine for the injection because it is expensive,” Dut said.

According to him, the best option is for the government to supply the main public health facilities with these vaccines so that people can get them at a lower cost.


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