Gangtok, August, 22:
The second annual Mass Anti-Rabies Vaccination Campaign in Sikkim is
scheduled to commence from 29th of August and operate until 30 September. It will be carried out by Sikkim Anti Rabies and Animal Health (SARAH) division with the help of volunteers from overseas, informs a press
Last year over 13,000 animals were vaccinated. This year it is hoped that more than 25,000 animals will be vaccinated during the campaign. The campaign aims to make Sikkim a rabies free state. Rabies is a deadly disease, it is a virus spread in the saliva of infected animals which spreads usually by bites. Up to 30,000 people die in India each year from rabies.
More than 98% of human rabies is from bites of rabid dogs. Children are the most common victims of dog bites. The most cost effective way to reduce human rabies deaths is through controlling rabies in dogs. Rabies can be controlled in dogs by mass vaccination of dogs and animal birth control of the population of owned and unowned dogs. The Mass Anti-Rabies Vaccination Campaign 2011 will be operating in all districts of Sikkim.
Dr. Thinlay N Bhutia of SARAH Division says “The response from the public last year was good but this year we hope that many more people will bring dogs and cats to be vaccinated at the pre-arranged vaccination centres. We will be vaccinating pet dogs, street dogs and cats over 3 months of age”.
Volunteers from overseas will be working with the SARAH staff in the vaccination campaign. The volunteers are keen to work in such a beautiful and progressive state of Sikkim.
Sikkim is the first state in India to undertake a state-wide vaccination campaign. Rabies is in epidemic proportions in other states of India, but because of the diligent activities of the SARAH program, Sikkim has had only one human death from rabies since the Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health program commenced. Before SARAH program started, there would be at least 1-2 human rabies deaths and innumerable cases of animal rabies and other associated problems every year.
Now the situation has improved manyfold over the years and need to maintain this. The need is to vaccinate the dogs of Sikkim every year if we are to be free of rabies and continue to do other activities like animal birth
control, pet registration, public awareness and many more. During the
campaign, the division will be checking and verifying the pet registration card, license issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry Livestock’s Fisheries and Vetenary Services, for dog owners in the whole state especially in the towns.
Under the Sikkim Stray Dog and Rabies Control Act 2000, it is mandatory to vaccinate pets against rabies once each year and an offender is liable to fines or imprisonment of up to one month if pets are not registered and duly
vaccinated against rabies. Many pet owners do not bother to vaccinate
their pets every year against rabies even though the next vaccination due date is written in the dog registration card. There will be an amnesty from prosecution in August and September 2011. No person who has their dog vaccinated during this campaign will be prosecuted under the Sikkim Stray Dog and Rabies Control Act 2000 for having failed to vaccinate their dog adds the release. Failure to vaccinate pets against rabies can lead to serious rabies incidents causing great public health and animal welfare issues and economic losses to the State.
The division has appealed to the public to cooperate with the team by bringing in their dogs and cats as well as informing others of the essential need for the vaccination. For the Annual Vaccination Campaign, the SARAH Division will mobilize its veterinary teams in collaboration with the departmental staff of different veterinary centres located all over the state.
The SARAH Division will also seek the help and cooperation of the Departments of Health, Forest, and Police, and the Block Administration Centres (BACs) and Panchayats in their respective areas to effectively implement the vaccination programme. SARAH division has constituted the teams with a SARAH vet surgeon as nodal officer in each team to facilitate the campaign.