A National Rabies Prevention Campaign has been launched in the Madina Municipality in Accra, on Thursday 13th July, 2023.
It was organized by the Veterinary Services Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
According to data from the Ghana Health Service (GHS), there is a steady increase in suspected rabies cases over the past three years.
It emerged that in 2020, suspected rabies cases increased from 119, with 24 deaths to 140 cases, with 12 deaths in 2021.
Additionally, 203 suspected cases with 26 deaths were recorded in 2022 and 153 cases, with 10 deaths in the first half of 2023.
Dog bite, which is a good transmitter for rabies has also seen a similar upward trend with 15,296 cases in 2020, 16,364 cases in 2021, 16,701 cases so far in 2023.
Analysis of the data showed that, majority of the suspected cases were in the Greater Accra, Eastern, Ashanti and Upper East regions.
The increase in cases has been assigned to low immunization.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Director- General of the GHS, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said rabies was a viral disease contracted from bites or scratches of dogs, but could also be transmitted by cats, bats and foxes.
According to him, symptoms of rabies include fever, headache, paralysis, mental confusion, excess salivation, muscle spasms, hydrophobia which could end in death.
Dr Kuma said the disease could be prevented through limited contact between humans and potentially rabid animals, immunizing animals and responsible petting.
The Director-General disclosed that the country joined the global call for the elimination of dog- mediated human rabies by 2030.
He called on the public to be ambassadors of the message on rabies in their communities, workplaces and schools and ensure that their dogs were vaccinated.
The Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Patrick Abakeh, refuted claims that vaccinated hunting dogs underperformed, noting that the vaccination and removal of stray dogs had been irregular.
He said the unit hopes to sustain the campaign for five years to achieve 80percent of dogs vaccinated.
The Municipal Chief Executive of the La Nkwantanang-Madina Municipal Assembly, Jennifer Dede Adjabeng said the Assembly would continue to intensify and enforce bye – laws on dogs.
She said the Assembly impounded stray dogs and kept them for 14days as part of enforcing the laws on dogs.
“In case the owners do not come for the dogs, the Assembly disposes of them. If the owners show up, they are made to pay a fine of up to 250 penalty units determined by prosecution or three months imprisonment, the MCE said.