Lagos State Government has said no fewer than 10,000 Nigerians are exposed to the deadly rabies annually.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, who quoted the World Health Organisation report, added that rabies accounted for over 55,000 deaths in the world with majority occurring in developing countries.
She spoke at the celebration of the World Rabies Day orgainsed on Saturday by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
She said, “WHO estimated that 10,000 Nigerians are at risk of the dreaded disease annually.
“However, this figure is unreliable due to under-reporting and misdiagnosis. So cases may be missed at post mortem.
“Dogs are the primary vector for rabies and they are the major source of infections to humans in Nigeria. About 94 per cent of cases in Nigeria are attributed to dog transmission.”
According to the Special Adviser, whose speech was read by Dr. Adeleye Olufunmilayo from the ministry, rabies virus is contained in the saliva of an infected dog and gets transmitted through bites.
She said control of rabies in the canine population was central to the control of the disease.
Adesina said prevalence of stray dogs in the state compelled government to promote activities that would lead to the eradication of rabies.
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture, Dr. Nureni Funsho, said the World Rabies Day was instituted to educate the public on the danger of rabies to human existence.
He said, “If you keep mammals, you are at risk of getting rabies, especially from dogs. It is important we vaccinate our dogs all the time.”
Chairman, Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association, Lagos State branch, Dr. Collins Oladapo, said rabies was preventable through vaccination.
He said, “There are so many countries where rabies has been eradicated. We can do it in Nigeria.”