KARACHI: As many as 14,000 dog bite cases have been reported in Karachi’s hospitals since the start of the year. Out of these cases, five people have died so far due to the non-availability of the rabies vaccine in health facilities.
An official at the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) told that around 5,300 dog bite cases had been reported from January 2019 while no deaths have been reported due to rabies at Sindh largest teaching hospital this year so far.
About 3,500 dog bite cases have been reported at the Indus Hospital Karachi since January to date out of which four people died owing to the dog-borne disease rabies at the hospital. The rabies is a uniformly fatal disease where a dog-bite victim will die if not given immediate and proper care.
The Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) has recorded more than 5,200 dog bites so far while the 11-year-old boy from Sanghar district of Sindh died due to the lethal dog-borne disease at JPMC recently. Approximately, 150 to 200 dog bite cases are being reported in three major health facilities of Karachi.
Rabies is a preventable disease transmitted to humans through the bite of infected animals. However, in Pakistan, 99% of cases are caused by dog bites. The majority of dog bite cases are being reported from slums areas of Ibrahim Hyderi, Korangi, Surjani, North Karachi, New Karachi, Baldia, Orangi, Keamari, Mehmoodabad, Liaquatabad, Federal B Area, Sohrab Goth, Orangi, Golimar, and other areas. The children and elderly population form the largest victim pool for dog bites.
At present, the hospitals of Sindh are facing a shortage of the anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) owing to the brewing tension between Pakistan and India as the majority of the vaccine imported is from India. The Indian government has stopped supplying the vaccine to Pakistan for several months.
However, a limited stock of anti-rabies vaccination is available at three primary health facilities of Karachi, including the JPMC, CHK, and Indus Hospital free of cost for dog bite victims. The Medical & Health Services Department of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has failed to establish four Dog Bite Clinics in KMC run hospitals.
In 2018, more than 23,000 dog bite cases were reported in three major hospitals of Karachi city.