RABIES HERO: EKNATH'S STORY

Post by

EMILY KING

on
July 4th 2017

Our vaccination teams work tirelessly to eliminate rabies in our project areas, with education and surveillance programmes working together to reduce the risk of rabies even further. Eknath is just one of the children whose life was saved thanks to the programmes delivered by Mission Rabies, and the use of the Rabies Hotline in Goa.

Eknath is now recovered and has learnt an amazing life lesson about dealing with rabies

On 15th November 2016, the Mission Rabies hotline received a call from Ramesh, whose son Eknath had been bitten by a dog. He relayed to the team that the dog looked fine and consequently, remained in disbelief that his son could have rabies. This is a common response as people do not realise a rabid dog may not be showing clear symptoms in the early stages.

The next morning at 9.30am, the team received a second call from Ramesh. The dog’s behavior had changed dramatically overnight. By 11am the Mission Rabies Response Team had picked up the dog, and as the animal was displaying clear rabies symptoms, it was humanely euthanized the same afternoon.  A post-mortem test confirmed a positive case of rabies.

The positive rabies test result

The team called Ramesh once more to ensure Eknath had visited the hospital and received the five post-exposure injections. During the conversation, the team discovered how the family learnt about the hotline.

In the days before, a Mission Rabies education team had visited Eknath’s school and presented him with a leaflet about rabies, a wristband, and a card with the hotline number advertised. He had been warned that should he ever get bitten, it is important to wash the wound with soap and water for 15 minutes and go to hospital as soon as possible for the injections. Rabies is 100% preventable if the full course of post-exposure vaccinations are received in time. Without them, it is a terrifying disease that is 100% fatal once symptoms begin. Eknath followed these instructions perfectly, insisting his father contact the hotline.

Dr Gowri chats to Eknath and his father and brother

Ramesh shared his son’s story with our very own Dr Gowri: “I am very grateful that he got help when a rabid dog bit my son. I was at work that day, I wasn’t home. My brother took him to the doctor and first aid was done. I later called you and you guided me to get him five injections. So, I went to the district hospital and started his injections. I’m so grateful we now know what to do.”

Had it not been for the education programme at Eknath’s school and the advice of the Mission Rabies hotline, Eknath could have become another tragic rabies death statistic. Since beginning work in Goa in 2014, annual human rabies deaths have reduced from 17 to 5 in 2015, and to 1 in 2016.

We are striving to make that number zero, through mass vaccinations and educating children like Eknath.