Nigeria Records 53 Rabies Cases, 17 Deaths In 2 Years

Director Federal Veterinary and Pest Control Services/Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria, Maimuna Habib, at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has disclosed that out of 232 dog bite cases between January 2021 to October 2022, 53 was linked with confirmed cases on rabies in 11 states.

Habib said, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the federal government is making concrete efforts towards the total control, prevention and eradication of rabies.

“Between January 2021 to October 2022, 53 out of 232 bite cases from predominantly dogs have been linked with confirmed cases of Rabies in 11 states of Anambra, Bauchi, Cross-River, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Ogun, and Plateau, out of which 17 fatalities were recorded in 6 states.

Habib said rabies is a highly debilitating and often fatal viral zoonotic disease affecting animals and humans, including non-human primate such as monkeys, cebus and chimpanzees.

She said other animals affected include cat, foxes, cattle, sheep and goat, monkey, lion and pigs.

According to her, the disease is caused by a bullet shaped- RNA virus, when viewed under the microscope called Lyssavirus, belonging to the family Rhabdoviridae.

“The virus she said has affinity for nerves and neurons in the body and it is often described as a neurotrophic virus causing progressive and fatal inflammation of brain and spinal cord.

“Rabies is predominantly transmitted through bite from a rabid animal to a susceptible animal, from rabid animal to a susceptible human, also from a rabid human to a susceptible human.

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“It could also be transmitted through scratch from an infected animal to a susceptible animal or human as well as contamination of open wounds or mucous membranes with saliva from a rabid animal could potentially cause exposure”, she noted.

Habib said according to the World Organization of Animal Health, approximately, 59,000 people die every year due to rabies worldwide.

She stated that for over 4000 years rabies has plagued every corner of the world. though, places like central Europe, North America, Japan, South Korea, and parts of latin- America have eliminated rabies.

“The virus is still present in large parts of Africa and Asia with 95 percent global death due to rabies. 80 percent of rabies cases occur in rural areas, with limited or inexistent access to health education campaigns and post-bite treatment. Also, 4 out of 10 rabies deaths occur in children.

“More than 90% of rabies cases is dog-mediated and it is 100% preventable through vaccination and can effectively eliminate the disease at its animal source.

“Though, it true that dog-mediated rabies accounts for more than 90% of rabies cases worldwide, recent reports of rabies in cats have called for urgent concern particularly cat (pet) owners on the dangers of rabies, through sensitization as well as reiterating the need for adequate vaccination.

Speaking on the efforts of the Nigerian government to eradicate rabies, Habib said there is Annual Mass Vaccination campaigns against rabies in all the geopolitical zones.