The Kenya Veterinary Doctors, Narok branch have launched a two day campaign to vaccinate about 5, 000 dogs in Narok West sub county ahead of the World Rabies Day to be celebrated on Tuesday September 28.
Led by the Kenya Director of Veterinaires Sans Frontieres (VSF) Maurice Kiboye, the doctors launched the campaign to vaccinate the dogs in various points of the sub county targeting about 70 per cent of the dogs that live in the wildlife dominated land.
Kiboye reminded the residents that rabies was a fatal disease because once a person is bitten by a sick dog, the chances of survival were almost nil.
“We are here to help people understand the effects of rabies and how it can be prevented, because the disease is deadly. Today we want to talk about facts on how to prevent the disease by vaccination instead of living in fear,” he said.
He observed that many people do not take the disease seriously as the symptoms manifest after 14 days in humans when it is too late to treat the disease.
“The fact is that a dog can take over one month before showing symptoms of rabies hence a dog owner can live with his dogs for over a month without the dog showing any sign of rabies,” he said.
Kiboye reiterated that the disease has high economic effects globally because of its high cost of treatment observing that in Kenya over 260 people die annually because of rabies.
“The best way to keep off rabies is by annual vaccination that can cost a farmer less than Sh200. Treating rabies is very expensive as it can cost a person over Sh10, 000,” he said adding that an infected dog can transmit the disease to other domestic animals like the cattle, donkeys and goats.
The director recalled that in the year 2006, the residents living near the Maasai Mara game reserve lost many animals following an outbreak of rabies in the area.
He said his organization has vaccinated over 73,000 dogs since the year 2007 when it started operations in areas surrounding the game reserve.
“We want to up our game of vaccinating dogs around the country so as to eradicate the disease before the year 2030. We therefore call upon all dog owners to be responsible and take their dogs for vaccination,” added the director.
Narok Red Cross Society representative Hazael Biwott said they work closely with the veterinary doctors to ensure the community is well informed on rabies where they encourage the residents to visit the hospital immediately in case they are bitten by a dog.
Biwott called on residents to wash a dog bite wound for at least 15 minutes with running water before visiting the doctor immediately.
“Rabies is 100 per cent preventable but 99 per cent fatal. This is why we are here to encourage dog owners to vaccinate their dogs to prevent rabies,” he said.
By Ann Salaton