Kampala — At least 300 city residents are expected to be vaccinated against rabies, a disease spread through bites by pets such as dogs and cats in an exercise that starts today.
The two-day exercise will be conducted by the Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA) at their offices in Wandegeya, a Kampala suburb.
Dr Sylvia Baluku Angubua, the UVA president, said the vaccination mainly targets veterinarians and other animal handlers at higher risk of acquiring rabies.
"The case fatality rate of rabies is so high and almost all the clinical cases result in death. Dog bites are of serious public health importance hence dogs should be kept responsibly," Dr Angubua said during a press briefing yesterday.
The exercise is being conducted ahead of the World Rabies Day on September 28.
In celebrating the day under the theme "Share the Message, Save a Life", the veterinary doctors will also educate communities and the general public how to prevent animal bites.
"In Uganda, the number of people bitten by dogs or dying of rabies annually is not known in the absence of systematic reporting or effective surveillance systems capable of capturing all data in all districts," she added.
Rabies-related deaths are common in different districts across the country. For instance, Busia District reported 1,000 cases of dog bites last year.
The Ministry of Health defines rabies as a viral disease caused by the Rhabdovirus (Rabies Virus), which affects all warm blooded animals.
Early symptoms of rabies include fever, headache and general weakness, according to experts
Dr Moses Mwanja, the National Rabies Disease Control focal point person in the Agriculture ministry, acknowledged that rabies is still a high burden disease in the country.
Dr Mwanja added that government has increased procurement of rabies vaccines for dogs and cats vaccinations.
"Through ministerial collaborations, we hope that human and animal health workers and other people exposed to animals will start being immunised against the rabies regularly," he said in an email response without specifying when the national exercise will start.
The cost of treating rabies for infected people in Uganda varies. Government health facilities charge Shs30,000 on average while private facilities charge between Shs150,000 and Shs200,000.