Rabies is a neglected but preventable zoonotic disease that predominantly affects the most vulnerable populations living in remote rural areas of resource-limited countries.
To date, every country on the African mainland is considered endemic for dog-mediated rabies with an estimated 21′500 human rabies deaths occurring each year.
It is also known to be present in more than 150 countries and territories of all continents. About 60,000 people die of rabies every year, mostly in Asia and Africa with 40% of these deaths happen in children below the age of 15years.
Rabies virus infects domestic and wild animals and is spread to people through close contact with infected animals’ saliva via bites or scratches.
The main route of rabies transmission to humans is the bite of rabid dogs. Nearly half of those bitten by suspect rabid animals are children aged under 15 years.
Today, 4th May, 2023, the Ashanti Regional Health Directorate with a funding from USAID-BREAK Through Action engaged the media in the region to educate them on their roles they are to play to control and prevent rabies.
The engagement which was themed, “Enhancing Rabies Prevention And Control: The Role Of The Media,” is to sensitized the media and also make them aware of the rabies situation in the region.
The Ashanti Regional Director of the Veterinary Service, Dr. Mabel Bum, speaking, urged pet owners to vaccinate their pets especially dogs and cats to avoid the spread of rabies in the region.
According to her, the Ashanti Region is on top in cases of rabies and it is very necessary to create much awareness for pets to be vaccinated to avoid the rabies virus.
She added that after the Verterinary Service Department (VSD) of Ministry of Foods and Agriculture (MOFA) monitored the incidence of rabies in dogs and humans for the past 5years (2018 to 2022) in Ashanti region, the Regional Veterinary investigation laboratory received 74 pet specimen for rabies diagnosis with 38 cases which were positive for rabies representing 51.4% of all cases and 36 cases were also negative representing 48.6%.
She has however admonished pet owners to do the needful to avoid risking lives in the society.
Professor Benjamin O.Emikpe, Dean Verterinary Medicine, College of Health Sciences at the Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science And Technology (KNUST) also added that, the government of Ghana embarked on a campaign to vaccinate dogs against rabies across the country but unfortunately, the campaign was not sustained and has been stopped since 1994 due to lack of sustainable support and funding.
Professor Emikpe also asserted that, behaviours and practices in rabies prevention and control are poor which good knowledge of rabies has not translated into satisfactory attitudes against the disease.
He stressed that under-reporting by individuals has led to low priority in commitment and resource allocation for control and elimination of rabies in the region.
He then urged the media to help the Verterinary Services to Intensify rabies awareness and vaccination campaigns in the region especially the remote and rural areas where the disease rampantly increasing.
He then promised that the School of Veterinary Medicine at KNUST is readily available and its doors are open for pet owners who wants to vaccinate their pets.
From January – April 2023, Veterinary Laboratory in the Ashanti Region has received 6 rabies specimen which 4 of the samples were positive to PCR test with 2 human involvement and 2 samples were negative to PCR test.
2 Human deaths have been recorded in the Region (Sekyere Afram Plains and Atwima Nwabiagya South) which happened at the blind side of the service.
Nana Yaw Owusu/Ashanti Region.