By Felicia Imohimi
The Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) has urged pet owners to be responsible by vaccinating dogs against rabies to avert spread to humans.
The President of the association, Dr Godwin Abonyi, made the call on Friday in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja in commemoration of the World Rabies Day (WRD).
Abonyi identified rabies as part of zoonotic diseases contributing 80 to 90 per cent of human diseases.
Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted by an infected animal to man through bite, contact with saliva or secretion from animals.
Abonyi, who described rabies as a global scourge, emphasised that it is a viral disease that emanated from pets, specifically dogs, cats and occasionally bats and other animals.
He said that large number of dogs at various localities in the country were not vaccinated against rabies, thereby posing threat to communities.
According to him, anybody bitten by rabid dog over time develops the same madness associated with rabid animal but the unfortunate thing is that it is irreversible.
He added that “the moment the victim of that bite of a rabid animal develop signs, there is the likelihood that such person will die because it is not curable, except the person or people are vaccinated prior to the bite.
“So, it is something of great concern because it is irreversible and the best way to avert the spread to human population is to vaccinate the animals, which is usually done once every year.
“As responsible pet owners, animal lovers should ensure that dogs, cats and others are vaccinated.”
Abonyi called for reintroduction of dog licencing authorities in local government areas to checkmate the vaccination status of dogs in localities.
The authorities, he said, were saddled with the responsibility of licensing dogs and with proof of the dog or pets being vaccinated, stressing that councils should be able to enforce that order.
According to him, reintroduction and enforcement of this core mandate by the authorities will go a long way to rid the society of the scourge and as well safeguard humanity.
WRD is commemorated on Sept. 28 annually to enlighten the society on the best ways and shortest cut to end the scourge.