Make anti-rabies vaccine a must soon after birth: Padma Shri recipient

Shimla, October 3 (PTI) The Union government should make anti-rabies vaccination mandatory shortly after birth to prevent around 49,000 deaths due to animal bite every year, Padma Shri recipient epidemiologist Dr Omesh Bharti said here. Dr Bharti told PTI on Anti-Rabies Day, "On an average, 49,000 people die every year in India due to rabies. If you want to eradicate it, you will have to make anti-rabies vaccination mandatory shortly after birth." If anti-rabies vaccine was provided to babies shortly after birth, only a booster would be required to prevent rabies in case of bites by dogs, cats, mongoose, monkeys or any other animal, he added. Dr Bharti was given the Padma Shri by the President in March this year after he developed a rabies immunisation protocol which brought down the cost of treatment from Rs 35,000 to below Rs 350 per patient. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also declared it as the new global standard. The Himachal Pradesh government has been administering anti-rabies vaccination free of cost since 2014 after its cost was brought down to Rs 350. Despite free anti-rabies vaccination, five people died due to rabies in Himachal Pradesh this year, Dr Bharti said. He said all five deaths occurred due to dog-bite. There was a need to analyse why these five did not go for vaccination after the dog-bite, he added. He said according to information, some of them were bitten by pups due to which they thought that it would not cause rabies. This misconception and lack of awareness were the main reasons for the five deaths, he added. In Himachal Pradesh, rabies-related deaths take place after being bitten by dogs, cats and mongoose. PTI DJI RDKRDKRDK