Believe it or not, dog bite is the fourth biggest health issue Bihar is grappling with. More than 10 lakh people have suffered dog bites in the last couple of years.
What’s more, incidence of dog bite are on the rise, even as other common diseases like acute respiratory infection (ARI), fever of unknown origin (FUO) and acute diarrhoea are showing a declining trend, thanks to improvement in medical facilities in the state.
The latest data of Bihar State Health Society (BSHS) on prevalence of diseases in the state revealed that more than 6.27 lakh people suffered from dog bites in the year 2014-15, which consists of nearly 12% of the ailing lot.
ARI continues to be the most prevalent disease affecting the people (17.30 lakh), followed by FUO (13.18 lakh) during the same period.
In 2013-14, about 4.15 lakh incidents of dog bite were reported from different areas of the state. Annual communicable disease surveillance report- 2014, put the dog bite cases to be 2.65 lakh in the year 2011 and 4.10 lakh in the following year.
A senior health department official said cases of ARI and FUO had come down drastically in 2014-15 vis-à-vis the previous year due to new interventions in the health sector and substantial improvement in medical facilities in rural areas.
About 21.52 lakh cases of ARI and 16.43 lakh instance of FUO were reported in the state, that year.
Health minister Tej Pratap Yadav attributed the rise in dog bite cases to growing menace of stray dogs and general apathy of the local civic bodies to curb it.
“The department is seriously looking into the issue and working out a mechanism to control it,” he said, adding that designated hospitals in all the districts were being supplied necessary medicines and vaccines to treat the affected people.
Local bodies, including the Patna municipal corporation (PMC), have their own alibi, saying that they did not have any dedicated wing for vaccination, castration or sterilisation of stray dogs for years.
“We had requested the health department to depute a vet doctor to run the drive against stray dogs, but nothing happened,” said PMC commissioner Shirsat Kapil Ashok.
Taking cognizance of the burgeoning canine menace, the Supreme Court has recently set up a panel to conduct a sample survey of Kerala and to make the state responsibility a norm in cases of stray dog bite.
A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh in their orders related to dog bite case in Kerala had said it would pass an order applicable to all states on handling stray dogs menace on the basis of the committee’s report.