Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre
Rabies in Kathmandu and Nepal
Although most diseases that affect dogs can't be transmitted to people, some dogs in Nepal carry rabies and other diseases that are dangerous to humans. Rabies is an infection caused by a virus which affects the nervous system and the brain. It is ususally transmitted in the saliva of animals who are already infected. In people and other animals, once symptoms appear, the disease results in death.
The signs of rabies can appear days, weeks, or even months after the animal is exposed to rabies. They can be variable, but generally include unusual behavior. A strange intense stare is common, as well as aggressive behavior, restlessness, and anxiety. Rabid dogs often bite anything near them, including the bars of a cage and even water poured towards them. In later stages, rabid animals have difficulty swallowing and may have saliva dripping from their mouths.
In Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal, bites from stray dogs are the most common way that people get rabies. Scratches from infected dogs can also transfer the rabies virus. Monkeys, who may be a source of human rabies infections, are commonly found around some temples in the Kathmandu area, especially Swayambhunath and Pashupatinath. In other parts of the world, raccoons, bats, foxes, and coyotes are common sources of the virus.
Every year in Nepal, about 32,000 people are treated for dog bites. Around 200 people, most of them children, die of rabies each year. Kids are at the greatest risk because they often play in the streets, pet street dogs, and have not learned how to recognize if a dog may be aggressive. The Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre's Education Programme teaches people, especially children, how to know avoid dog bites and rabies, including how to identify dogs who may be aggressive or may bite them.
An additional problem caused by rabies is that people's fear of this painful and deadly disease causes them to treat street dogs inhumanely, including killing dogs suspected of being rabid. By educating people about rabies prevention, the KAT Centre is also reducing animal cruelty towards stray dogs in Kathmandu and throughout Nepal.
The KAT Centre's approach: Animal Birth Control for street dogs in Nepal
A sustained Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme combined with widespread rabies vaccinations is the only method for reducing rabies that has been demonstrated to be effective and humane. The Kalimpong Animal Shelter, which started in 1998, has already reduced the street dog population in Kalimpong, India by around 80%, and the number of human deaths from rabies has fallen from over 25 each year to zero. In the large city of Jaipur, India, Help in Suffering has used Animal Birth Control (ABC) to eliminate rabies in the area where they work.
KAT has vaccinated over 22,000 street dogs for rabies, including 10,000 vaccinated in collaboration with the other members of the rabies alliance, a coalition of Nepali governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
The Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre is confident that with support from our donors, we can put an end to people in Kathmandu dying painfully from rabies.
How you can avoid rabies
Although most dogs who live in the streets are safe, be careful around monkeys and stray dogs in Nepal, especially if they show unusual behavior.
If you are bitten or scratched by an animal that may be rabid, go to a hospital immediately for treatment, which consists of a series of injections over several days. Fast treatment is essential to prevent infection. Rabies in humans can always be treated, but once a person begins to show symptoms of rabies, there is no cure and the infection results in a painful death.
If you are planning to travel to Nepal and you are considering getting preventative rabies vaccinations, please consult a specialist in travel medicine.
© Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre | Email: KATinfo@KATCentre.org.np | Tel: +977 1 4377729