State rolls out mass vaccination drive to eradicate rabies

The government has rolled out a mass vaccination drive aimed at eradicating rabies in the country by the year 2030.

The Kenya Veterinary Association launched the drive in Kilifi with the roll out of 10,000 vaccines.

Chief Administrative Secretary Agriculture Livestock Fisheries Lawrence Emuhaka said 8000 vaccines were donated by the government while the rest by the county government.

Rabies, which is estimated to kill about 2,000 people a year in Kenya, is endemic across the entire country, with Kilifi, Machakos, Makueni and Kitui having particularly high prevalence.

Despite the high mortality, current efforts to prevent the rabies infections has mostly been restricted to treating individuals after a dog bite and random dog vaccinations, with little investment in sustainable prevention and control plans.

Emuhaka however says a strategic plan is now in place placing Kenya in the list of African countries working towards prevention control and eventual elimination of the disease.

Each year, in Africa, rabies kills an estimated 25000 people, with about one death every 20 minutes. Children are the most affected by the disease, with 4 out of every 10 deaths occurring in children under the age of 15 years.

The PS said many countries are struggling with the disease and only a few were rabies free among them, the UK and some arctic countries.

“Its difficult to treat rabies , if you are bitten by rabies you will spend close to Ksh 20,000 so prevention is better than cure that’s why we are doing vaccination for free,” he said.

The CAS said one dog can bite over 20 people.

Kilifi CEC Member for Agriculture , Livestock and Fisheries Dr. Luciana Sanzua , the county reported 2006 cases of rabies which affects the economy due to the high costs of treatment.

The county spends Ksh15 million annually to treat rabies

The ministry is working with counties to fight the disease by supporting them with infrastructure, capacity building, and donation of vaccines.

EXPLAINER

Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the central nervous system (CNS), in particular the brain.

Domestic dogs, cats, and rabbits — and wild animals such as skunks, raccoons, and bats — are able to transfer the virus to humans via bites and scratches. The key to fighting the virus is a quick response.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, around 59,000 people worldwide die from rabies every year. About 99 percent of them have been bitten by a rabid dog.

 

  

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