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Lai Chau bitings spur fear of rabies outbreak

Update: April, 14/2014 - 09:08
This year, the province supplied 25,000 free doses of vaccines for dogs and cats to assist residents.— Photo suckhoedoisong

LAI CHAU (VNS)— Local residents in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau are concerned about a possible outbreak of rabies, after hundreds of people report being bitten by suspected rabid dogs.

According to the report of the provincial health department's Preventive Medicine Centre, more than 340 people who were bitten by dogs have received vaccinations since the beginning of this year.

The figure is reportedly higher than the same period last year, when only 271 cases were recorded. Local medical staff said the true number of people bitten might be higher than the official figure, as some people have not sought treatment. The centre said that although dog bites were on the rise, no deaths had yet been reported from rabies this year.

Most reported victims of rabid dogs are in Lai Chau City, Tam Duong and Phong Tho districts.

Of these cases, resident Le Xuan Vuc, 53, in Lai Chau City's Tan Phong Ward, has had four out of five vaccine injections after being attacked and bitten by a 20 kilo stray dog one month ago when he was planting vegetables in his garden.

"The bite caused me to undergo two surgeries needing 14 stitches to close the wounds," Vuc said, adding that the Lai Chau General Hospital instructed him to receive the vaccinations.

Director of the provincial Department of Animal Health, Dang Xuan Hao, said most dog owners in the province had not followed regulations by letting their dogs run free and without a muzzle.

Hao added that the rate of dogs vaccinated against rabies remained low due to the poor awareness of dog owners.

"It's very difficult to get the dogs vaccinated, as they are wandering around, and when we try to catch them, they run into the forest or the fields," he said.

For many years, poor people in Lai Chau have received free vaccination injections after being bitten by suspected rabid dogs.

A vaccination station was recently set up by the Preventive Medicine Centre in Phong Tho District's Dao San Commune to shorten the time and distance for local residents seeking treatment.

This year, the province supplied 25,000 free doses of vaccines for dogs and cats to assist residents.

In 2009, a rabies epidemic occurred after four people died of the disease. — VNS

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