By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Veterinary Services Department of the Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat (ARDS) has started a free vaccination exercise for dogs and cats in the Federal Capital Territory.
The exercise was mooted after a boy, recently bitten by a dog at the Mambilla Barracks, Abuja, tested positive to rabies when a test was carried out on him. The ARDS is one of the agencies under the FCT Administration.
The Director Veterinary Services Department of ARDS, Dr. Mrs. Regina Adulugba, disclosed this at the FCT Veterinary clinic in Nyanya, Abuja.
The attack left many people in the FCT in shock and has alerted many to the reality of rabies, which is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals, usually following a bite.
Dr Adulugba warned the residents of FCT about an upsurge of rabies in the Territory of recent, adding ARDS in addition to the daily routine clinical vaccination exercise, was embarking on a campaign to sensitize FCT residents to vaccinate their pets.
She said that though the Secretariat had carried out routine vaccination on dogs this year, it decided to carry out intensive vaccination over the next one month, after the FCT Minister Mohammed Musa Bello approved the exercise.
She warned FCT residents to be cautious, saying rabies, which symptoms include fever, muscle spasms, paralysis and mental confusion is impossible to cure, once the disease begins to manifest.
“I am calling on all residents, not just dog and cat owners to be cautious because as at the moment, there has not been any confirmed cure for the disease. It is important to note also that not just dogs, even cats can be carriers of the rabies virus, so our best bet is to annually vaccinate these animals” Adulugba warned.
She said following the Mambilla Barracks attack on a boy by a rabid dog, the Secretariat took samples from the dog and sent it to the National Veterinary Research Institute, NVRI, Vom. When the result of sample came out, it tested positive for the virus, she said.
The director urged residents to ensure that they confine their pets especially dogs to minimise the risk of attacks, adding the Secretariat had procured adequate vaccines and other necessary inputs to carry out the exercise free of charge as directed by the minister between now and December.
“We have fully mobilised all our veterinary doctors and other health workers and we will be taking the campaign to all the six Area Councils of the FCT to offer the free vaccines.I therefore call on pet owners to take advantage of the window to vaccinate their animals, ” Adulugba said.