A rabies outbreak in four villages of Alley, Majuwa, Pana B, Rangeytoong in Phuentsholing and Sampheling gewogs, Chukha are under control, officials from the regional livestock department centre (RLDC) in Tsimasham confirmed.

The first case was reported in Wangdigatshel school area in Alley on January 21. Community had killed a suspected rabid dog and reported to the livestock office in Phuentsholing.

Senior veterinary officer Dr Chendu Dorji said the field rapid test (FRT) from the samples collected from the carcass was positive.

“It had also bitten many other community dogs, including some people,” he said.

Dr Chendu Dorji said a joint investigation and response team comprising of RLDC, Chukha livestock, BAFRA, health, and local community was formed to address the matter. A disease outbreak investigation team and quarantine movement and control team have also been formed.

After investigation and consultation with the community, about seven dogs in Wangdigatshel were also euthanized.

In Wangdigatshel about 25 people were reported bitten either by the rabid dog or suspected rabid dogs. All are undergoing post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) at the hospital.

In Majuwa village, the community reported five rabid dogs. However, only one was traced, and then euthanized after confirming the result from the FRT. Majuwa and Wangdigatshel are in Phuentsholing gewog.

In Sampheling gewog, a pet dog had bitten its owner at Pana B village on January 25. Suspecting rabies due to clinical symptoms, the owner had then killed the dog and reported to the livestock. RLDC later collected samples from the carcass and confirmed that the dog was rabid.

Pana B shares border with villages across the border and the rabid dog had bitten dogs from across the border, according to the community, RLDC officials said. The owner of the pet dog and his daughter are undergoing PEP.

Community of Rangeytoong, another village in Sampheling gewog had also killed a suspected rabid dog and informed the officials on January 28. Rapid test again confirmed the dog was rabid.

The veterinary officer also said that door-to-door surveys were conducted in the affected villages. It was to trace if rabid dogs had bitten other domestic animals and to decontaminate the affected areas.

About 25 pet dogs, 15 stray dogs, and five cats have also been vaccinated in these communities. People from the affected communities were sensitized.

‘We have briefed the people to call BAFRA at toll free number 1555 and livestock toll free number 1244 if they are bitten,” the veterinary officer said.

Dr Chendu Dorji said the rabies outbreak was caused due to community dogs being bitten by free moving stray dogs from the lower areas of Phuentsholing town.

Given the winter season, RLDC officials said that many pilgrims would go across the border making them prone to risks. Any dog bite incident should be reported to get immediate medical help.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing