Amid nationwide lockdown in India, our teams continue the fight against rabies.
In the state of Goa, many establishments remain closed – shops, hotels, restaurants, gyms, spas, cinemas and more – and people have been prohibited from leaving their homes between 7:00pm and 7:00am. Only essential services have been operating and permitted to travel, including Mission Rabies.
Under the Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, our teams have been deemed essential. Our rabies response and animal rescue units have been allocated unrestricted, state-wide travel permits to ensure rabies doesn’t re-emerge – and everyone gets through the lockdown.
Although routine vaccinations were suspended for the first two months of strict lockdown, our rabies response teams remained on-call to respond to any reported cases. Day or night, they act immediately to investigate rabid dogs and ensure that anyone exposed take the critical life-saving rabies vaccine. Last year our teams received 4,183 calls – we simply cannot let these calls go unanswered.
There have been no human rabies deaths in Goa for the past two years. Through intensive surveillance across the state and appeals to the public to watch out for rabid dogs, we’re determined to maintain this record and prevent the disease from returning to areas where it has not been seen in years.
A number of positive cases were confirmed in dogs during the lockdown and whilst routine vaccination work had ceased. Our teams acted quickly to launch an emergency rabies vaccination drive in the areas of greatest concern. Following government and WHO guidelines to protect staff and communities, our experienced dog handlers began vaccinating owned and stray dogs, and our education officers distributed educational messages to the public about how to avoid getting bitten, and how to respond if they do.
After two months of strict lockdown in Goa, the state government has given our teams permission to resume routine vaccinations. Now, all geared up and following new protocols, the team is back doing what they do best: preventing the spread of rabies and saving lives.
FEEDING STRAY DOGS
The lockdown has been difficult for everyone, but especially for stray animals. Many of India’s street dogs who rely on restaurants and shacks to feed them, are now struggling to find food. In Goa, this was recognised as a significant problem by the state government and Mission Rabies and other local NGOs were issued with passes to ensure that dogs in need are being fed. As well as preventing the dogs from starving, providing them with food and water minimises their need to cross territory borders, compete for food and act aggressively towards people – ultimately reducing the risk of rabies spreading.
On a fishing jetty in South Goa, our team was alerted to almost 100 starving dogs, after all fishing activities were prohibited. A temporary kitchen was set up onsite, equipped with a gas stove, gas bottle and pans, and donations from the public helped purchase rice, eggs and dry dog food. Taking it in turns, our teams are helping feed the dogs until the fisherman can return.
Your support makes all of this possible.
With your help, we can prevent a spike in cases in the aftermath of this pandemic. As soon as the coronavirus situation allows, you can rest assured that our teams will be doubling their efforts to make up for lost time – to safeguard both people and dogs against rabies.
If you can, please consider making a donation today to support our team’s lifesaving mission.