Rabies on the rise in Iran: official

August 5, 2019

TEHRAN – The number of cases of rabies in Iran increased in the past Iranian calendar year 1397 (March 2018 – March 2019), compared to its preceding year, said Behzad Amiri, the head of zoonotic diseases department at the ministry of health, ISNA reported on Sunday.

There were 182, 818 cases of rabies reported in 1396, while the figure rose to 207, 227 in 1397, he explained.

Rabies, an infectious viral disease spread to people through animal bites, is treated free of charge in health centers for rabies prevention nationwide, he said.

He previously announced that there are some 700 rabies prevention centers nationwide. If a person is bitten by an animal, he or she should refer to these centers and take preventive measures.

Each rabies vaccine costs seven euros and each rabies serum costs 56 euros, which imposes a great financial burden on the ministry, he lamented.

However, only six people got rabies last year, he said.

In October 2018, Amiri announced that rabies imposes 1.8 trillion rials (about $42 million) on the country annually.

He said that several working groups were formed to deal with stray dogs, which is one of the main causes of rabies.

According to WHO, rabies is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical symptoms. In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans.

Globally, rabies deaths are rarely reported and children between the ages of 5–14 years are frequent victims.

People with furious rabies exhibit signs of hyperactivity, excitable behavior, hydrophobia (fear of water) and sometimes aerophobia (fear of drafts or of fresh air).

Paralytic rabies accounts for about 20% of the total number of human cases. This form of rabies runs a less dramatic and usually longer course than the furious form. Muscles gradually become paralyzed, starting at the site of the bite or scratch. A coma slowly develops, and eventually, death occurs.

SB/MG

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