Rabies outbreak prompts vaccination drive in Dong Nai Province

In response to a surge in rabies cases, authorities in Dong Nai Province are implementing a comprehensive strategy to combat the disease, including a mass vaccination campaign.

The functional force in Bien Hoa City is catching stray dogs

There are around 140,000 dogs raised in Dong Nai Province, two-thirds of which are located in rural areas. However, because only a half of them are vaccinated against rabies while the number of rabies outbreaks since the end of 2022 has increased gradually, the functional agencies proposes this mass vaccination campaign to cope with the serious situation.

A visit to Bau Can Commune in Long Thanh District at the end of this May revealed a concerned community where a potential rabies outbreak was announced. Dogs were no longer let loose like they had been.

N.T.H.N., a local inhabitant, recalled that her family has four dogs. One day, when she got into close contact with them, one suddenly bit her hand to bleeding. Four hours later, that dog rolled over, drooled uncontrollably, and died. Fearing of a possible rabies infection, she immediately rushed to the clinic of Long Thanh District for vaccination. She was confirmed later that the dead dog had actually suffered from rabies, and one of the three remaining dogs was then quarantined for monitoring as well after being bitten by the infected dog.

After investigation, the functional agencies were still unable to pinpoint the source of this rabies spreading in the area since 81 out of 84 dogs in the neighborhood had been vaccinated against the disease. This greatly worried the locals here. N’s family as well as her neighbors was advised to receive vaccination in advance.

In Trang Dai Ward of Bien Hoa City, it is quite common for people to let loose their dogs. On hot days, many of them have aggressive behaviors. L.D.H., a local resident who owns two dogs, has recently witnessed his two children bitten by one of them. It then stopped eating, went crazy, bit its cage, and died.

To prevent people from being bitten by infected dogs, since the end of this March, Bien Hoa City launched a campaign to capture unmonitored dogs in Trang Dai Ward. When coming to receive a dog back, its owner has to sign a written commitment not to letting it loose and to pay an administrative fine of VND400,000 (US$15.7) as well as animal food and caretaking fee. Owners of those not being vaccinated have to pay an additional fine of VND1.5 million ($59).

Since the beginning of this year, Dong Nai Province has recorded 12 rabies outbreaks, a rise of 9 compared to this time last year, mostly in the districts of Trang Bom, Dinh Quan, Nhon Trach, Vinh Cuu, Thong Nhat, and Long Thanh.

In 2023, the province also detected 20 such rabies hot spots in the districts of Dinh Quan, Long Thanh, Trang Bom, Nhon Trach, Thong Nhat, Vinh Cuu, and Bien Hoa City. Two bitten victims died. Therefore, the Sub-department of Livestock and Veterinary Medicine of Dong Nai Province vaccinated more than 100,000 dogs against rabies.

It is worth noticing that from 2014 to 2022, Dong Nai Province had recorded no rabies outbreaks thanks to its mass vaccination campaign, paid by the provincial budget. However, in 2023, when this financial source came from social mobilization, the campaign could not carry out as widely as before owing neglection of provincial residents.

Head of the Sub-department of Livestock and Veterinary Medicine of Dong Nai Province Nguyen Truong Giang informed that to eliminate these outbreaks, the province is adopting three solutions of spearheading a vaccination drive; forming teams to catch stray or unmonitored dogs; propagandizing prevention methods against rabies to the public such as vaccinating dogs, using leash and muzzle on dogs before walking them, and seeking medical help immediately after being bitten.

The People’s Committee of Dong Nai Province is proposed to allocate budget for purchasing 1 million rabies vaccine doses to inject local dogs within 5 years. When approved by the provincial People’s Council, from July 2024, this mass vaccination campaign will take place.

Tay Ninh Province yesterday reported two fatal cases due to rabies. The first victim is 19-year-old A.H.D. in Truong Phu Hamlet of Truong Dong Commune in Hoa Thanh Town. On February 10, 2024 his hand was bitten by a dog, and seven days later he showed signs of rabies. His family then took him to hospital, but it was too late to cure, resulting in his death on May 19.

The second case is 50-year-old M.N.H. from Truong Duc Hamlet, also in Truong Dong Commune. In January 2024, her face was seriously bitten by a dog. She came to hospital to have the wound stitched up but did not opt for rabies vaccination. Four months later, she succumbed to the disease and passed away.

Obviously, these fatal rabies cases highlight the need for vigilance and proactive action to prevent further loss of life. The concerted efforts of government agencies, veterinary professionals, and the community are crucial to effectively curb the spread of the disease and safeguard public health.

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