Thai Nguyen health authorities have reported an increase in rabies infection after many people were bitten by stray dogs.
“Four people have died due to rabies this year, including a three-year-old boy. He was attacked and badly injured by a stray dog and died a few days after being treated,” Pham Quyet Thang, deputy director of the preventive health center in the northern province, said.
The center reported that 3,145 people in the province have been bitten by stray dogs between January and March and that it has repeatedly received reports about stray dogs suspected of being rabid.
Thang said local authorities have issued warnings about rabies and set up task forces to kill suspicious-looking stray dogs.
The center has set up seven stations to provide rabies vaccines.
“The treatment cost of VND1-2 million has been a major problem, leading to painful and unwanted consequences,” Thang said.
Pham Ngoc Quan, deputy director of the province Animal Health Agency, said people always send samples to his center when they kill a stray dog.
“Every sample has tested positive for rabies.”
Dr Hoang Anh, Thang’s boss, said the only way to avoid death after being bitten by a rabid dog is to get vaccinated.
“In case of serious and multiple bites, the patient should be treated with a combination of vaccine and serum.”
In Vietnam, more than 60,000 people were bitten by dogs and cats in 2014, of whom 14 died of rabies.
Rabies, a virus transmitted through saliva, causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and is almost always fatal if not treated early.
The disease kills about 55,000 people a year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, which said children under 15 are the most common victims.
Traditionally, Vietnamese families have raised dogs to guard their homes or for food. According to the General Statistics Office, there are around 10 million dogs in the country.