36% of the world's rabies deaths happen in India. A Kashmiri doctor is trying to change that.
Rabies is a 100% preventable though not curable disease. Qazi Mudasir, a veterinary doctor at the Central Veterinary Hospital Srinagar, recently received an international award for rabies-control. He is the only Asian to have received this award this year.
Mudassir Kuloo 7 Dec 2022 5:36 AM GMT
Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir
Qazi Mudasir spends long hours each day conducting surgeries, administering vaccines and dispensing medicines. The doctor works at the Central Veterinary Hospital Srinagar, and his patients include cats, dogs, goats and cows that come to him from far and near.
The 37-year-old veterinary doctor was recently recognised by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), a leading international non-profit that works towards eliminating rabies by 2030. Mudasir is the only Asian to have received the 'Veterinary Clinic Champion' award this year on September 28, which is the World Rabies Day.
The incidence of rabies in animals has been reduced to almost nil due to efforts of the Jammu & Kashmir government's Animal Husbandry Department of which Mudasir is a part. Rabies is a dreaded zoonotic disease which is transmitted from animals to humans. Its symptoms include fever, headache, excess salivation, muscle spasms, paralysis and mental confusion.
Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease which occurs in more than 150 countries and territories. Dogs are the source of the vast majority of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99 per cent of all rabies transmissions to humans.
"Rabies is a dreadful disease which is 100 per cent preventable and zero per cent curable. There is no treatment available for curing rabies. But it can be prevented if proper vaccination schedules are followed," Mudasir told Gaon Connection.
Mudasir's contribution to rabies control is commendable because India is endemic for rabies, and accounts for 36 per cent of the world's rabies deaths, as noted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to WHO, the true burden of rabies in India is not fully known; although as per available information, it causes 18,000 - 20,000 deaths every year. About 30-60 per cent of reported rabies cases and deaths in India occur in children under the age of 15 years as bites that occur in children often go unrecognised and unreported.
The animal husbandry department in J&K has spared no effort to educate people about the role of prophylactic and post bite anti-rabies vaccination in animals. And, it has ensured that anti rabies vaccination is available in every veterinary hospital at subsidised rates. Government provides each dose of vaccine at a subsidised rate Rs 4.72 while in the market each dose costs Rs 150-Rs 250.
"Whoever visits our hospital, we make them aware about this disease and ensure that every animal that comes to us is vaccinated. The vaccination is for every animal. There has not been a single case of rabies reported at the hospital since November 2021, and that is why the award," the award-winning doctor said.
It is a very prestigious award, said Purnima Mittal, director, animal husbandry department, Kashmir, "And we would like to thank GARC for honouring Dr Mudasir," she told Gaon Connection.
"It is a great achievement that our doctor has won this international award. It will encourage other doctors who are working with such dedication in the field," she said.
Mudasir grew up in Srinagar and did his bachelor's in veterinary science from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir (SKAUST, K). He pursued his post graduation from Madhya Pradesh. In 2009, he was appointed as Veterinary Assistant Surgeon and is currently serving in the Department of Animal Husbandry.
It was his love for animals that made him choose veterinary science as a career. "The voiceless creatures deserve as much love and care as humans," Mudasir said. The veterinary doctor has performed more than 5,000 prophylactic anti-rabies vaccinations in canines and felines, and 2,254 post bite anti-rabies vaccinations in animals having history of dog and cat bites thereby reducing the incidence of rabies to almost nil in the area.
According to him, the Central Veterinary Hospital Srinagar receives up to 200 ailing animals a day. "This includes pets and strays. We provide them with the best possible treatment here. Animals get their first vaccination dose at the age of three months, and that is followed by a booster dose. After which they should be vaccinated annually. This will prevent rabies," he said.
The animal husbandry department also has provisions for free treatment of stray and destitute ownerless animals. Mudasir along with his colleagues has spread awareness about canine behaviour and has provided shelter for strays.
GARC is dedicated to eliminating rabies in both humans and animals to support the global goal to end deaths due to canine-transmitted rabies by 2030. Its mission is to prevent human rabies deaths, and to relieve the burden of rabies in other animal populations, especially dogs.
The Indian government has also launched a National Rabies Control Programme, which has both human and animal components.