LAO CAI (VNS)— The northern Lao Cai provincial Department of Animal Health has placed two districts on high alert for rabies after a number of people were bitten by dogs suspected to be rabid.
The move comes after a total of 24 people in Bao Yen and Bao Thang districts were reportedly bitten in the last six weeks. One man from Bao Yen District died of rabies, while the remaining 23 people have received rabies vaccines since being bitten.
Director of the Lao Cai Department of Health Nong Tien Cuong said the number of people being bitten was on the rise.
Nearly 30 people in the province were bitten by rabid dogs last year and three died from rabies after not reporting their bites to medical workers, meaning they did not receive the vaccine.
Earlier in 2010, more than 30 people were bitten by dogs suspected to be rabid in Muong Khuong and Si Ma Cai districts.
Cuong blamed the increase on residents' lack of awareness for preventing rabies.
"Medical workers encouraged local residents to give vaccine injections to their dogs and cats, but they are still subjective," he said.
Residents often let their dogs wander and bite indiscriminately, he said, adding that when bitten, people did not visit medical stations to receive treatment.
The wide number of rural areas in the province made it difficult for medical workers to supervise all dogs and cats, he said.
To halt the growing number of cases, the Lao Cai Department of Animal Health has issued 16,500 doses of the rabies vaccine to inject dogs in the two districts affected.
The provincial People's Committee issued an urgent document asking districts and cities to vaccinate all dogs, monitor the situation and force people bitten by dogs and cats to be vaccinated.
There are approximately 10,000 dogs in the province, according to statistics from the provincial department of animal health.
Associate professor Dinh Kim Xuyen, former director of the Ministry of Health's rabies prevention project, said the disease often takes a long time to become apparent, thus residents are careless and do not seek the vaccine quickly enough after being bitten by dogs or cats.
To control the disease, dogs should be injected, she said, and advised people bitten by a dog to supervise the dog for 10 days. If it refuses to eat and becomes cruel, the people who have been bitten should obtain the rabies vaccine, she added. — VNS