The news follows Soi Dog joining forces with Phuket City Municipality to provide free sterlisations and rabies vaccinations to pet owners in Phuket Town last week. (See story story.)
From Mar 26 to April 6, the SDF mobile team will be providing the free services at Suan Sripuwanart Park in Wichit (see map below).
From April 9-27, the team will be at the Nong Harn park in Rawai, beside Nai Harn Beach.
The SDF mobile team will include of one veterinarian, three veterinarian nurses and one team of dog catchers.
The services will be available from 9am to 4pm on Mondays through Fridays, and even on public holidays during the periods specified, but not on weekends.
The SDF has long provided free sterlisations and rabies vaccinations in Phuket, a factor that may have factored considerably in that 13 provinces in Thailand – but not including Phuket – earlier this month were designated “rabies red zones” after an outbreak saw 247 animals infected and three people killed by the disease in just two months. (See story here.)
Soi Dog founder John Dalley told The Phuket News last week, “We have brought the island’s stray population down from an estimated 80,000 in 2003 to 4,000 to 6,000 (best estimate) today, and vaccinated most of the animals, thereby making the island rabies-free and controlling the dog population.
“But we need to maintain the number, and that means sterilising new dogs and cats brought onto the island by their owners,” Mr Dalley said.
“The sterilisations and vaccinations are being provided free of charge,” he added.
However, as recently as last Wednesday (Mar 14), part of the tourist district of Hua Hin was declared a red rabies zone after 61-year-old man was found to have died from the viral disease after being infected by a cat bite. (See story here.)
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has formally recognised the outbreak across the country, including in Bangkok (see “City governor voices alarm over rabies surge” here), with a notice for people to be wary of stray cats and dogs – and to take reasonable precautions.
“If tourists do experience any unfortunate incidents; such as, being bitten, scratched or licked by any animal, they are advised to get immediate medical treatment,” said the notice.
“Every year, especially during the summer season, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) will issue advice to the public on how to prevent common illnesses that can occur due to the heat; such as, rabies and diarrhoea.
“This annual advice is a normal practice and so the public and travellers should not panic. Across the country, preventive measures are in place at all times to ensure good health and wellness for all,” the TAT advisory added. (See notice here.)
The Ministry of Public Health in its advisory noted, “Any warm-blooded animal (bats, monkeys, raccoons, foxes, skunks, cattle, wolves, coyotes, dogs, mongooses (normally yellow mongoose), squirrels or cats can get rabies and present the greatest risk to humans.
“The virus is usually present in the nerves and saliva of a symptomatic rabid animal. The route of infection is usually, but not always, by a bite. Transmission also occurs when saliva from rabid animals comes into direct contact with fresh cuts or wounds. Though transmission has been rarely documented via other routes; such as, contamination of mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, nose, and mouth), aerosol transmission, and corneal and organ transplants, rabies is not transmitted through consumption of boiled milk or cooked meat,” the advisory added. (See advisory here.)
The Ministry of Health explained that incubation periods for rabies as short as four days, and longer than six years, have been documented, “depending on the location and severity of the inoculating wound and the amount of virus introduced”.
“Initial rabies symptoms may be pain or a tingling sensation at the site of infection, progressing within days to symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, agitation, abnormal behaviour, restlessness, and excessive salivation. Once a person begins to exhibit signs of the disease, survival is rare.
“Death almost invariably results two to 10 days after the first symptoms,” the ministry added.
For animal bites and immediate post-exposure treatments, the ministry advised:
- Immediately flush and wash the wound for a minimum of five minutes with soap and water and apply antiseptic.
- Observe the animal – normal practice in the case being bitten by a dog – for at least 10 days for abnormal symptoms or death.
- Consult a doctor immediately.
- Take a full course of vaccination (even if you are not in Thailand).
Of note, the ministry rated as its top way of preventing the spread of rabies as, “Vaccinating your pet dog, cat or any other animal that you keep against rabies as recommended by the veterinarian every year.”
In helping to avoid contracting rabies from an already infected animal, the ministry also advised:
- Don’t provoke the animal
- Don’t tease or make the animal panic; such as, stepping on its tail or other parts of the body
- Don’t try to separate the animals while they are fighting
- Don’t take away the animal’s food dish or bowl while they are feeding
- Don’t play with or deliberately hold a stray animal