India’s sustaining challenges to combat rabies elimination: a comprehensive review
Keywords:Rabies, Challenges, India
Rabies is one of the fatal zoonotic diseases wreaking havoc on humanity since antiquity. India continues to suffer the greatest rabies burden of any country, both in terms of annual human deaths and disability-adjusted life years. While modern rabies management emphasizes the importance of achieving zoonotic disease control and prevention through a One Health approach, the disease remains challenging as its persistence is invariably multifaceted. Therefore, it is imperative to examine the enduring reasons for the increasing incidence of rabies in India. Between 2012- 2022, a systematic search of scientific publications, popular search engines like Google, as well as in the grey literature regarding rabies was carried out. Since rabies elimination boils down to addressing the reasons, it is first seen related to the large and unvaccinated stray dog population, where 97% of cases are by dog bites. A second finding is that many bite victims resorted to indigenous treatment practices due to insufficient awareness and knowledge about the disease. Incomplete treatment practices also led to some deaths, especially because rabies vaccines are not affordable or accessible to poverty-stricken populations. Rarely, vaccine failures were caused by a lack of vaccine potency, a wound type, or ineffective administration methods. Even with all these data incorporated, there was no information on prevalence/incidence estimates of dog bites in recent years through national data. Therefore, without intensified surveillance, sustained political commitment, enormous mobilization of resources, and rabies education, the epidemic waves of this fatal disease will continue in India.
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