… all three safe, say health officials

Lhakpa Quendren | Gelephu

A black female rabid dog has bitten three children in the army residential colony at Pelrithang, Gelephu. The incident occurred on different occasions on July 5 and 6.

The patients, all males aged five, 12, and 18 years, were discharged and allowed to return home after administering immunoglobulin (antibodies against rabies) at the Central Regional Referral Hospital (CRRH) in Gelephu yesterday.

Based on epidemiological findings and rapid test positive results, the veterinary investigation report ‘highly recommended’ Anti-Rabies Vaccine (ARV) and Immunoglobulin.

The rabid dog had also bitten four dogs and two cats. The dogs, all pets, were immediately isolated and the cats were taken to the Gelephu Regional Veterinary Hospital and Epidemiology Centre.

The rabid dog, although not belonging to anyone, used to stay in the army colony. The soldiers managed to capture the rabid dog, but it died from suffocation in the sack.

According to the investigation report, all residents in the colony visited the hospital following the incidents.

As part of preventive and control measures, a mass awareness programme was conducted for all the people, including their children, in the army colony. “Mass dog and cat vaccination were also immediately done. Our human counterpart also conducted human ARV,” a veterinarian said.

Meanwhile, the rabies patient, who was bitten by a rabid dog at the Tareythang army outpost, is still in the intensive care unit of the CRRH. The 29-year-old soldier was bitten while attempting to save a cat.

The medical superintendent of CRRH, Dr Choeda Gyaltshen, said that there has been no improvement or deterioration in the condition of the patient. “With the recommendation from senior physicians, we procured Ribavirin, which might benefit the patient. Since it is not available in Guwahati, it had to be procured from Kolkata.” 

As a precautionary measure, the movement of livestock and livestock products out of Tareythang Gewog has been banned until further notice.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering visited the army colony with Sarpang dzongkhag officials.

Lyonchhen instructed that immunoglobulin should be made available in all PHCs, and hospitals in Sarpang dzongkhag including the Wing MI Room at Pelrithang. He said that trained HR mobilisation should be done if necessary for giving immunoglobulin.

“Any bites including minor scratches should be taken as a rabid case and be given immediate immunoglobulin injections without wasting any time before ARV and wound/ bite dressing,” he said.

Lyonchhen also visited the CRRH ICU and met with the patient’s family members.

Lyonchhen said that given that there is an ongoing outbreak of rabies, health staff should urge all persons with any animal bites to visit health facilities at the earliest. “All health facilities to attend to such patients any time; keep health facilities open 24×7.”

All health staff in the region are to be informed about the ongoing rabies outbreak in Gelephu-Tareythang.

Lyonchhen said that there might be more animals with rabies already freely roaming. “All public to be informed about preventing animal bites and to report to the nearest health centre in case of a bite.”

Health facilities were instructed to ensure enough stock of ARV.