Kirinyaga County has launched a major vaccination exercise to curb the spread of rabies in the County.
County Executive Member for Agriculture and Livestock Development Dr John Gachara says that there has been a surge in the number of stray dogs and cats that necessitated an urgent vaccination drive.
The annual exercise was launched yesterday by Dr Gachara at Kangai Ward in Mwea Constituency.
Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. It can spread to humans and pets if they are bitten or scratched by an infected animal.
Gachara said the exercise targets to vaccinate about 5000 dogs and cats across the county with an aim to protect the residents from the killer disease.
“The County government will roll out the vaccination campaign across the 20 wards to ensure no area is left out in the effort to safeguard residents from the disease,” he added.
Director Livestock, Veterinary Services and Fisheries Dr. Richard Gichangi says rabies is a neglected zoonotic disease that is nearly always fatal in humans if appropriate preventive measures are not taken after exposure.
Research shows that globally, it causes approximately 60,000 deaths annually mainly in developing countries with one person dying of rabies every 10 minutes. More than 95 per cent of human deaths occur in Africa and Asia with children below 15 years of age at the greatest risk of rabies exposure.
“Rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death,” said Dr Gichangi.
Dr Gichangi added that the County is carrying out a sensitisation campaign in all the 20 wards to ensure the exercise is successful.
He said though rabies cannot completely be eradicated, its spread can be stopped through continuous vaccination of pets.
“If anyone is bitten by a dog, we urge the residents to thoroughly wash the infected areas with clean water and soap as a first aid measure before going to hospital to avoid spread of germs to other parts of the body,” he added.
Gichangi urged the locals to turn up in large numbers for the exercise to ensure the animals are safe.
The residents thanked Governor Anne Waiguru’s administration for the interventions to ensure their safety.
A similar vaccination exercise against Foot and Mouth disease targeting livestock is expected to begin in May.
By Irungu Mwangi