Mash West runs out of rabies vaccines

Fortunate Gora Mash West Correspondent
A shortage of rabies vaccines has hit Mashonaland West province amid reports that most cases of bites in the province involved dogs that have not been vaccinated. This has increased the risk of contracting rabies, amid reports three people died last year after being bitten by unvaccinated dogs and failing to get treatment.

In an interview, Ministry of Health and Child Care provincial health promotions officer Dr George Kambondo confirmed the vaccines shortage.

“We do not have anti-rabies vaccines to supply hospital and clinics. After a dog bite by an unvaccinated dog a person needs at least three doses to prevent human rabies,’’ he said.

“So even if we predict signs and symptoms we do not have vaccines and this may result in some deaths. Last year we lost three lives.’’

He said the scenario was worrisome as the province last year recorded a total of about 3 558 cases of dog bites of which 2 141 were by mongrels whose status was unknown. Dr Kambondo said 693 dogs were not vaccinated, raising fears of a rabies outbreak.

He pleaded with the Veterinary Services Department to vaccinate dogs to avoid an outbreak of rabies.

Mrs Tariro Dorovaishe of Kenzamba, whose daughter was bitten by a dog, said the situation was dire since the vaccine was not even available in private pharmacies. The vaccines cost about RTGS$100 for one dose.

“My daughter was bitten by an unvaccinated dog which means we need $300 to buy the vaccine from pharmacies.

We are now hoping that she has not been affected by rabies,’’ she said.

Efforts to get a comment from the Veterinary Services Department were fruitless. Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals especially dogs.

Symptoms of rabies may be very similar to flu and may last for days before evolving to include hallucinations, fever, headache and nausea, among others. The symptoms normally show when it has reached an advanced stage which makes vaccination critical.

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