- Rabies is an infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical symptoms.
- In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans. Yet, rabies can affect both domestic and wild animals. It is spread to people through bites or scratches, usually via saliva.
- As per WHO: An estimated 59,000 people die from rabies across the world each year, with around 90% of these deaths occurring among children living in rural areas in Africa and Asia.
- In India alone, estimates range between 18,000 to 20,000 human deaths from rabies each year. Many of these deaths are children, often dying outside of medical facilities – meaning their deaths go unrecorded.
- A new protocol to treat rabid dog bite patients can prove to be a major breakthrough. Now, the WHO recommends it as one of the least expensive therapies in the world. In the past five years, the procedure was successfully tested on thousands of dog and monkey bite victims.
To help people acquire treatment at an affordable cost, Dr Omesh Kumar Bharti, attached to Intra Dermal Anti-Rabies Clinic and Research Centre of Deen Dayal Upadhayay Hospital, Himachal Pradesh, has come forward.
Speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Bharti said, “In Himachal Pradesh, many people have died due to rabies. I have witness the same. Anti-rabies vaccine is costly. Sometimes, it is not available. So, we researched on how to treat rabies at an affordable cost. Since the year 2014, with this new technique, we have treated around 20,000 people.”
He added, “Due to this, the cost of the anti-rabies vaccine comes up to Rs 350 as the medicines are costly and are priced at Rs 35,000.”
The existing treatment involved injecting patients with the rabies vaccine and rabies immunoglobulin (RIG). He evolved a protocol that required a fraction of the RIG needed for conventional treatment.
“A tiny amount of RIG injected directly into the wound was just as effective as administering large amounts,” he said.