At 82,247, the city recorded the highest number of cases of dog bites in the last decade in 2012.
According to the municipal health department, the number of cases was 53,051 in 2001, which dropped to 45,183 in 2006. However, the number rose to 54,661 in 2007.
Doctors said that the number of cases could rise further, as many people take anti-rabies vaccination after a dog bite at private hospitals.
“A bite by a rabid dog can be fatal if the person does not vaccinated. At present, there is no treatment for rabies. Despite the availability of a vaccine, India reports 20,000 deaths every year,” said Ranjit Mankeshwar, in-charge, anti-rabies vaccination clinic at the JJ Hospital, who gets 200 patients of dog bites every month.
He said that 50% of the patients are children.
Health experts have blamed the rise on the increasing stray dog population.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had initiated a sterilisation programme in 1994, under which they sterilised more than 2 lakh stray dogs. However, despite the sterilisation efforts, the dog census found 74,926 stray animals in 2007.
“The sterilisation programme runs on contract system and there is no transparency. In the last few years, we have come across instances where dogs have given birth even after sterilisation,” said Sunish Subramanian, PAWS, a non-profit working in animals.
The number of deaths because of dog bites, however, has dipped over the years. In 2011, six people died after contracting rabies while in 2012, eight people died.
According to civic records, most cases are reported in March and April, when dogs are irritable because of the warm weather.