THE DISEASE Control Department (DCD) is warning people to be cautious with animals during this hot season as the heat makes them irritable, and they might bite at the slightest stroke.
These bites or scratches can easily turn fatal if the animal is infected with dangerous diseases such as rabies, it warned.
“So, it is best to be careful,” DCD director-general Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai said yesterday.
Between January and March, nearly 80,000 people sustained bites from dogs, and of the victims, 30 per cent were younger than 15. Hence, Suwannachai said, parents should keep a close eye on their children to protect them from being bitten or scratched during their summer holidays.
According to the Local Administration Department, there are 10.78 million stray dogs and cats in the country and though the DCD has not yet detected a rabies patient so far this year, the Livestock Development Department said it has found 156 rabid dogs in 39 provinces.
Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain. Early symptoms can include fever and tingling at the site of the bite or scratch. These symptoms are followed by one or more of the following symptoms: violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, fear of water, inability to move parts of the body, confusion and loss of consciousness. Once symptoms appear, the result is nearly always death.
This disease can be transmitted to humans via bites, scratches and contact with the infected animal’s saliva. Though rabies is most common among dogs, the disease can also develop in cats and cattle.
To avoid rabies, Suwannachai said people should avoid contact with animals they do not know. “If you have pet dogs, give them anti-rabies shots every year,” he advised, adding that free rabies vaccinations are available at livestock offices nationwide until June.
Suwannachai also advised people to not tease animals, avoid stepping on them, intervening in their fights or taking their food away.
“If you’re bitten or scratched, wash your wound with clean water and soap repeatedly. Apply Betadine and then rush to a doctor,” he advised.
People wanting to know more about the disease can call the 1422 hotline.