Nearly 60 per cent of patients wounded after animal bite at a tertiary hospital in Ahmedabad had taken wrong immediate treatment — by either not doing anything or applying items like tobacco, chilli powder, talcum powder, toothpaste and even tea on the wound, a study claimed.
The study, which analysed prevailing practices of wound treatment for animal bites, becomes significant as following an animal bite, it is advisable to wash the wounds and disinfect it as soon as possible as the rabies virus enters the human body through the wound and if not cleaned and disinfected, the virus can persist and multiply at the site of the wound.
The study by Dr Bhavna Puwar, assistant professor in community medicine department of NHL Municipal Medical College, affiliated to AMC-run SVP Hospital involved analysis of 1,225 records of patients between January and June 2016 as well as interviewing 155 patients.
The analysis of the 1,225 patient records showed that 45 per cent of them missed one or more doses of the anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) after the first dose, including 14 per cent of the 1,225 patients missing all three doses after the first dose.
According to Dr Puwar’s findings, working age men appeared to miss doses in higher proportion than women, which she suggests, could be linked to the fact that being earning members of the family, time taken in getting the vaccine dose “may affect their work and wages.”
Meanwhile, among the 155 patients who were interviewed, it was found that about 33 of them washed the wound with only water and another 28 of them used soap or an antiseptic to clean the wound, thus indicating that 61 of the 155 took the right measure when it comes to immediate treatment. However, 61 others did nothing before coming to the hospital and the remaining 33 succumbed to myths and falsehoods and applied item such as tobacco, snuff, chilli powder etc on the wound instead.
As per the 2018 Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCD) report of Gujarat, 17 deaths due to rabies were reported across the state, with 12 of those deaths reported from the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation jurisdiction.
Eight of the total 16 deaths due to rabies in 2017, as per the MCCD report of Gujarat, were also reported from AMC.
As per all-India MCCD report of 2019, Gujarat recorded a total of 27 rabies deaths, against the total 625 deaths due to rabies reported across India. Uttar Pradesh (182) reported the highest number of rabies deaths in the country followed by West Bengal (79), Maharashtra (78) and Chhattisgarh (52).
As per the “draft national action plan for eliminating dog mediated Rabies in India” document of September 2020 by the Health Ministry, it has been stated that while “different studies quotes different figures of Animal Bites incidence and deaths due to rabies in human,” the WHO –APCRI (Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India) 2004 study for rabies “estimated 17.4 million animal bites and 20000 deaths /year due to Rabies in India.”
The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) meanwhile has recorded an “increase in animal bites from 4.2 million in 2012 to 7.4 million in 2018 with dogs.”