Sri Lanka risks rapid spread of rabies due to vaccine shortage

by IANS |

Colombo, Jan 4 (IANS) Rabies might spread rapidly in Sri Lanka in 2023 due to shortages in vaccines, a health official said here on Wednesday.

Director of Public Health Veterinary Services L.D. Kithsiri told journalists that there were no vaccines in storage units in Kandy, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Colombo, and Gampaha districts, reports Xinhua news agency.

Twenty-eight people died last year from rabies and out of that 17 contracted the disease, Kithsiri said.

"We are carrying out vaccination programs until February using the remaining vaccines in other regional storage units," he said, adding that there will be no vaccination from February.

In 2022, they vaccinated a million dogs and sterilized 40,000 female dogs, he said.

"There is no shortage of vaccines given to humans who are hospitalised but this might change really fast if rabies spreads among dogs," he said.

According to WHO data, Sri Lanka has achieved a successful reduction of human rabies deaths from 377 in the mid-1970s to 31 in 2021 due to its successful vaccination drive.

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