News

Teamwork in the name of rabies prevention

Partnership forged to educate children to prevent dog bites and rabies

Tuesday, April 21 2015

Educating children on how to avoid being bitten by dogs is a key step in preventing the spread of the deadly rabies virus. To this end, the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) and the programme managers of two Netcare Trauma Injury Prevention Programmes have teamed up to develop a fun-filled yet informative booklet endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The booklet was developed to teach children how to interact with dogs and read their body language in order to avoid being bitten,” says Netcare Milpark Hospital trauma programme manager, Rene Grobler.

“Young children are typically the ones most impacted by rabies, as their actions around dogs can often lead to dog bites” PARACON organizing committee member, Terence Scott. PARACON is the Pan-African Rabies Control Network, unified under the umbrella of GARC.

Grobler says: “The booklet was designed to be interactive, with educational games and pictures to facilitate easy learning”.

Amanda Klette, Netcare Union Hospital trauma programme manager, adds: “The graphics will also help illiterate individuals to understand the core concepts contained in the booklet. The booklet includes a certificate to serve as a reminder of these concepts”.

The WHO has endorsed the booklet and, along with the Glen Shopping Centre in Allberton, has provided sponsorship for the development and first printing of the booklet, to be distributed to disadvantaged communities.

An electronic version of the booklet will be freely available from www.rabiesalliance.org and www.theglenshopping.co.za. Additionally, a digital copy can be requested by emailing Netcare Trauma Injury Prevention Programme on injury.prevention@netcare.co.za. The booklet will also be made available on other electronic forums.

It is hoped that, in time, the booklet will be translated into a variety of widely spoken national and international languages.

The booklet was developed to teach children how to interact with dogs and read their body language in order to avoid being bitten, and hence prevent the spread rabies. Herewith an extract from the booklet.

A partnership between GARC and Netcare for the development of the educational booklet epitomises a ‘One Health’ approach towards rabies control and elimination. GARC provided the expertise with regards to rabies and dog bite prevention, whilst Netcare – with their experience in the successful development of several other trauma booklets – has the skills to target the correct audience most effectively.

“The booklet reinforces the importance of seeking medical attention as soon as possible after an animal bite in order to improve one’s chances of survival - through post-exposure prophylaxis - in case of rabies exposure,” Scott says.

According to the WHO, tens of thousands of people die as a result of rabies infections each year, mostly in rural communities of Africa and Asia.

Domestic dogs are the main transmitters of rabies to humans, but, through effective rabies vaccination of dogs, the majority of human rabies cases could be easily prevented. The virus is spread through the saliva of infected animals, either when they bite, or when their saliva comes into contact with an open wound or the eyes, nose or mouth of an individual through licking.

The booklet was developed to teach children how to interact with dogs and read their body language in order to avoid being bitten, and hence prevent the spread rabies. Herewith an extract from the booklet.

Advanced symptoms in untreated patients include hydrophobia (difficulty in swallowing and panic when presented with liquids to drink, resulting in an inability to quench thirst), hallucinations, aggressive behaviour, and paralysis, which ultimately leads to coma and death.

 

Ends

Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare and GARC
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Wilson or Meggan Saville
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email: martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, sarah@mnapr.co.za or meggan@mnapr.co.za

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