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'No Free Roaming Dogs' zones should be created to manage threat to lives at hospital premises: Doctors suggest

News Agencies | Updated on: 6 December 2022, 15:07 IST
‘No Free Roaming Dogs’ zones in hospital premises

A new study has suggested making premises of hospitals as 'no free-roaming dog zones' in order to check the spread of rabies, and threats to life in hospital premises as well as the issues such as high mortality rates of such canines.

The study titled "Towards dog-free hospital campuses in India" published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR) said that India has one of the largest numbers of free-roaming dogs (FRDs) in the world.

The FRDs are commonly referred to as stray dogs, which are not under direct human supervision and control and are also not restrained from wandering around in public spaces.

The authors of the said article published in the IJMR have mentioned that hospitals with proper boundary walls can help prevent the intrusion of FRDs and said that it will also complement the existing dog population management (DPM) interventions with better efficiency.

The authors have attributed unorganised waste management, haphazard urban planning, ineffective implementation of animal birth control, flawed DPM, and radicalised animal rights activism not based on evidence, among other factors responsible for the rapidly growing number of FRDs.

It further said that the bites by the FRDs are the major cause of rabies making India a "substantial contributor to the global dog medicated rabies deaths" reporting an estimated 20 million dog bites". It also reported around 18,000 to 20,000 annual deaths which contribute to 36 per cent of global rabies deaths.

"Of the total rabies deaths in India, 92-97 per cent are caused by infected dog bites, of which 62.9 per cent are from FRDs, both in urban (60%) and rural (63.6%) areas," it said further.

In 2021 in line with the WHO rabies elimination roadmap, India also launched its new action plan aimed at accomplishing 'zero human rabies deaths' by 2030, by adopting a 'One Health' Strategy.

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As per the study, bites by FRDs can transmit several zoonotic diseases besides rabies including brucellosis, babesiosis, ringworms, and external parasites. The article further suggested that-- the prevention of community feeding of dogs, encouragement of community education, awareness and sensitisation towards the DPM strategy, and the need to bring in policy-level changes to minimize the risks in hospital campuses-- are the need of the hour today.

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First published: 6 December 2022, 15:07 IST