THREE CHILDREN are at risk of rabies infections, despite being vaccinated, after a rabid dog attacked them in Samut Prakan province on Tuesday night.
“The risk is particularly high when the victims receive several or severe bites,” Professor Thiravat Hemachudha, a prominent doctor and lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, said yesterday. “In such cases, victims should be monitored for symptoms for one full year.” He spoke after a recent dog attack in Bang Sao Thong district.A dog bit three children, aged between two and 10 years old, on Tuesday night and a test later showed the animal was rabid. The young victims received several wounds, some being severe. Rabies has caused widespread concern in the country lately, after many rabies-related deaths were reported earlier this year.
The situation was so worrying that the Disease Control Department director-general Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai held a teleconference meeting with provincial public-health chiefs across the country yesterday to follow up on preventative measures.
Village health volunteers have been instructed to go door to door to advise people to watch over their children, most of whom are now on school break, as they may play with dogs or cats and get bitten.
“Some people think getting bitten by their own pets may not be dangerous. But such a thought is among the common causes of rabies-related deaths,” Suwannachai said. He also said rabies vaccines could not completely eliminate the risk of infection. Suwannachai said his department had been trying to raise public awareness that even minor scratches from dogs could not be ignored. “If an animal licks your wound, you also have to quickly clean the wound repeatedly with soap and water for about 10 minutes. Then, add Povidone-iodine [betadine] and go to see a doctor,” he said.
In Samut Prakan, local livestock officials vaccinated several stray dogs in the area where the rabid dog lived as an initial precaution. Regarding news reports that suggested the Livestock Development Department might be setting up a rabies-vaccine factory, Thiravat commented that relevant authorities should carefully review such a plan. “Rabies vaccines for animals are now widely available at a cheap price,” Thiravat said. Asked about rabies vaccines for humans, Thiravat said Thailand had never had a factory for human vaccines before and expressed doubts about the practicality of such a plan. Earlier this week, an investigation was announced into alleged conflict of interest in rabies vaccine purchasing linked to a former top official in the Livestock Development Department. TP1 EP