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As Sierra Leone commemorates World Rabies Day …

Gov’t urged to develop policy to halt disease spread

September 29, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie 

A lecturer at Njala University has urged government to consider coming up with a strong policy that would halt the spread of rabies across the country.

Sierra Leone yesterday (28 September) joined other countries around the world to commemorate this year’s World Rabies Day, a day set aside to raise awareness about rabies prevention and to highlight progress in defeating the horrific disease.

According to Rooland Suluku, they were ready and determined to eliminate rabies by 2030, so that people would feel safe in dealing with domestic animals but stressed that such goal could only be achieved with a strong policy.

He explained that in commemorating the day, they selected New England Ville and Dworzack communities to vaccinate a total of 1000 dogs.

“We do not have enough doses for now, which is why we are targeting a limited number of dogs on a first come first serve basis. We want to eliminate rabies by 2030 so that people will feel safe with domestic animals,” Mr. Suluku said.

“Be aware that if you are in a remote area and are offered daily rabies treatment injections lasting 14 to 21 days, it may be one of the older animal brain-derived vaccines. We recommend that you do not take them due to serious side effects.”

Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Abu Bakarr Daramy, who partnered with the Sierra Leone Animal Welfare Society (SLAWS) to commemorate the day, said rabies was an infectious disease which if not treated seriously could cause death when an individual is bitten by an infected dog or other animals with the disease.

He stated that the increase in the number of stray dogs was a cause for concern, as they were at risk of contracting rabies, which was why he joined SLAWS in partnership with the International Animal Welfare Organisation, Ministry of Agriculture, and the Freetown City Council to campaign against the disease.

“The majority of human infections occur in Asia and Africa. Children are especially vulnerable since they may not report scratches or bites. They should be cautioned not to pet dogs, cats, monkeys, or other mammals. Any animal bite or scratch must be washed repeatedly with copious amounts of soap and water,” Daramy said.

Rabies is a viral infection caused by viruses belonging to the Lyssavirus genus. It is a zoonosis (an animal disease that can spread to humans) transmitted through the saliva of infected mammals bites. The infection primarily circulates among domestic and wild animals such as dogs, cats, monkeys, foxes, bats, raccoons, and skunks, although all mammals are at risk.

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