A dog bite costs victim Rs 2000 in Kashmir: GMC study

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A latest study by Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar has revealed economic burden of rabies prevention in dog-bite cases in the summer capital where at least 6500 people became victims of canine menance last year.
The study was conducted at GMC’s department of preventive and social medicine to assess the economic burden of dog bites In view of large number of cases registered in the Valley
The researchers, Dr Mariya Qureshi and Prof S Saleem Khan have deducted that with each bite, the victim incurs an expenditure of Rs 2000 on an average, for treatment including purchase of equine rabies immunoglobulins (eRIG) and other costs.  eRig is an injection recommended for grade III (severe) dog bites for prevention of rabies.
While comparing out-of-pocket expenses of rabies prevention with available data from other states, the study notes: “Out of pocket spending on PEP in our setting is more than three times (than Karnataka) which is very high and needs to be addressed”.
The average cost of eRig is Rs 1000 for patients in Kashmir. While advocating public health spending on rabies prevention drugs, the study reasons that two third of the victims (66 percent) had class-III exposure who need immunoglobulin as a life saving measure.
The study was carried out on 429 dog-bite victims reporting at anti-rabies clinic of SMHS Hospital. The most common site of exposure was lower limb 293 (68.3 percent) and two-third (66.2 percent) of the exposures had Class-III exposure.
More than half of the victims, 239 (55.7 percent) were found to be economically dependent on their family members.
Taking into account the socio-economic status of the victims, the study reports that most people bitten by dogs are from lower economic strata. At least 22 percent victims were in below poverty line (BPL) category, while about 40 percent others were also from economically underprivileged backgrounds. The researchers found that most affected group by canine rabies were people from rural areas, and every fifth victim of canine exposure is a child of less than 9 years.
Underlining the fact that dog-human ratio in Srinagar city was 1:14, the researchers recommend setting up a system to control animal rabies through “collaborative efforts from all stakeholders.” The study calls for mass dog vaccination programme for stray dog population through involvement of veterinarians. It stresses on the need for management of solid municipal waste through local governance – municipalities and panchayats in urban and rural areas respectively.
The study clearly states that the cost of management of dog bites in Kashmir would keep on escalating if a proper management system for stray dogs is not devised. “Keeping in view ethical and legal considerations, dog killing might not be feasible in Kashmir, note the researchers, therefore advocating “other” immediate and concerted efforts to control dog population.

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