National Seminar on ‘Sustainable Rabies Control in Kerala” was held at KVASU, Pookode to commemorate World Rabies Day- 2016. The event was organized by COHEART in collaboration with Indian Veterinary Association (IVA) and Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI). The seminar was inaugurated by Smt. Ushakumari T., District Panchayat President, Wayanad who stressed the need for intersectoral collaboration to control Rabies and also emphasized the necessity to consider the welfare of Dogs during stray dog control program.
Dr. Kiran Bhilegaonkar, Principal Scientist, IVRI chaired the scientific session and Dr. Bibin K.C, Asst. Professor was the rapporteur. Dr. Rajendra Singh, Head, Division of Pathology at ICAR-IVRI, Izatnagar, presented a paper on ‘Implementing Rabies Control Program - Current Strategies, Gaps and Challenges,’ He stressed on the need for controlling packs of stray dogs in an effective manner to combat the re-emergence of rabies. Dr. Singh pointed out the need for executing waste management strategies to check stray-dog menace. He further stressed that Animal birth control by surgical sterilization is the proven method to control stray dog population in demographically dense urban area.
Dr. Jithesh V., Asst. Director, Health Services Department spoke on ‘Epidemiology of Human Rabies in Kerala and need for collaborative approach’. He stressed that although Rabies is 100 per cent fatal disease in humans, it is 100 per cent preventable too. It is understood that 20,000 people still die of it every year. Dr. Baby K.K, Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Kozhikode Corporation detailed the Legal Implication on Stray Dog Control. This was followed by a talk on Waste management for preventing stray dog menace by Dr. Deepak Mathew, Assistant Professor KVASU where he opined that humans should consider in-house management of food waste to tackle the stray dog menance.
Handling a session on ‘Sustainable Rabies Control and Animal Welfare,’ Ilona Otter, Director of International Veterinary Training, Worldwide Veterinary Service, Ooty, said that the government should execute animal birth control (ABC) measures and develop anti-rabies vaccination (ARV) strategies in a coordinated inter-sectoral manner to control the increasing incidences of dog-bite related rabies cases in the State. Dr. Illona cited the success story of Tamil Nadu in implementing ABC ARV for effective rabies control. The seminar was attended by around 250 participants including faculty, veterinarians, medical professionals, post-graduate students and under-graduate students. The salient understandings from the seminar was that in long run rabies can be controlled by effective management of stray dogs population through birth control measures coupled with vaccination programme, by implementing strict licensing and action against people who are abandoning dogs to streets, adopting proper bio-waste management practices including in house management of food waste to minimize the stray dog population. And finally, Animal husbandry and health department, NGOs, political parties etc. should work together in a One Health way to control rabies in Kerala