Delta government has tasked owners of dogs and cats in the state to vaccinate their pets against rabies, free of charge and obtain a certificate of immunisation.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief Julius Egbedi, gave the changed while inaugurating the 2021 Annual Anti-Rabies Awareness and Immunisation at the Government Veterinary Clinic, on Thursday in Asaba.
Egbedi, represented by Mr Ben Agama, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that the sensitisation had become necessary to educate the general public on the dangers of “this highly contagious and zoonotic disease of dogs, cats and some wild animals.’’
He said that the Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa-led government had since 2015 sustained the advocacy and vaccination of dogs and cats free of charge.
According to Egbedi, anti-rabies campaign in Delta is an annual event intended to draw the attention of the general public to the public health implication of rabies.
“This flag off and sensitisation is being replicated in the 25 local government areas of the state.
“Evidence has shown that prevention of rabies through immunisation of healthy dogs and cats is the most effective means of preventing and controlling the disease.
“This is done routinely in all government veterinary clinics across the state.
“The essence of this ceremony is to rededicate and renew the drive to stop rabies.
“Also to draw the attention of the public to the need for hygienic and decent accommodation as well as human treatment to pets as a measure of preventing cruelty to dogs and avoid pet zoonotic diseases such as hydatidosis, toxoplasmosis, hepatitis among others.”
Egbedi said that rabies infection usually resulted from a bite of an infected dog or cat, which presented with different symptoms.
He said that that diagnosis of rabies must be prompt because of the irreversible nature of the disease.
“All cases of dog bit should be taken seriously and must be reported immediately to the nearest veterinary clinic and medical centre for treatment and proper investigation.
“The public is therefore advised to utilise this opportunity to vaccinate their dogs and cats free of charge and obtain a certificate of immunisation, which serves as evidence in case of dog bite,” Egbedi said.
The commissioner also tasked the local council authorities to mobilise the rural communities to get their pets vaccinated in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) declaration of zero rabies by 2030.
Dr Charles Diai, the Director of Veterinary Services, in the stated said dogs, cats and other pets “are companion animals to human beings’’.
“However, these animals if not well catered for health wise, do constitute a source of ill health for humans.
“There are some diseases which due to neglect affect dogs and cats, eventually are transmitted to humans.
“One of such diseases is rabies. It is a highly fatal disease of some mammalian species and of viral origin but it is highly preventable by vaccination of healthy dogs and cats.
“It is for this reason that we create awareness annually among the human population, especially the pet owners to be conscious of this zoonotic disease and ensure that your pets are immunised against rabies annually,” Diai said.
Diai said that about 5,000 dogs were being vaccinated yearly in the past four years and no rabies case had been confirmed in the state.
“This year, in the next 12 months because rabies vaccine is taken once a year, we are targeting more than 5,000 dogs; so that is why we are reaching out to the rural communities.
“Delta is one of the states which has sustained the anti-rabies campaign because His Excellency, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa has made funds available,” Diai said. (NAN).