94,000 hospitalised in a year after being bitten by animals

Infectious Diseases Hospital in city's Mohakhali

College student Al Fahad was returning to his home at East Shewrapara from his college at Mirpur. En route, he got chased and bitten by a stray dog near his house. BUET student Tasrifa Binte Farazi was attacked by a stray cat at Azimpur. Both received treatment at Infectious Diseases Hospital, Mohakhali. Physicians at the hospital said the number of victims of animal bites has increased in the recent past.

According to the information of Infectious Diseases Hospital authorities, a total of 94,380 people were treated in this hospital last year after being attacked by dogs, cats, mongooses, monkeys and jackals. The number of people receiving treatment in this hospital in the previous year was 89,928. Two-thirds of these patients were attacked by dogs. Then came the cat attack victim. The number of victims of attack by mongoose, monkey and jackal was much less.

People of Dhaka city and adjacent areas mainly receive treatment at this hospital. A total of 11,672 people came to receive treatment at the hospital in January.

Residents of different localities of the area said the number of stray dogs has increased in the city in recent times. Pedestrians are getting attacked by stray dogs often at night.

Saikat Ahmed, a resident of Mirpur, told Prothom Alo that there are a lot of stray dogs in the alley of his house. These dogs chase pedestrians and even bite them often in broad daylight.

Saikat said he fears taking his children out due to the situation.

It was learnt that two city corporations of Dhaka used to kill stray dogs. A High Court order in 2012 banned dog culling. This ban, as well as inaction of the government bodies to control the number of dogs has led to an increase of this animal in the city. Consequently, the number of victims in dog attacks is also increasing.

Sources said, a total of 42 patients died of rabies from dog bites in the hospital last year and 44 in 2022.

Communicable Disease Control’s (CDC) zoonotic disease control promgramme’s deputy manager SM Golam Kaiser told Prothom Alo that the number of deaths from rabies was 2500 ever year before 2010. Various steps in eradicating rabies have decreased the number of deaths now.
Sources said the health ministry adopted a national rabies elimination program in 2011 to eradicate rabies from the country. Four strategies—increasing social awareness and advocacy, determining modern medical management for dog bite, mass dog vaccination and dog population management through ligation and neutering—were taken as part of the programme. However, dog population management is yet to begin.

According to the health ministry data, over 500,000 dog bites victims took vaccines in 2023. A total of 451,000 people took vaccines in 2022. The number of deaths in rabies in these two years is 86. Now 409 facilities in district-upazila level provide vaccines to the victims of animal bites. Also, different medical colleges provide the vaccine.

Infectious Diseases Hospital’s caretaker physician Md Mizanur Rahman told Prothom Alo that the number of animal bites patients is on the rise. The DGHS and other relevant government bodies should work in a coordinated way to decrease the number of animal bite victims. Stray animals, as well as pets, have to be brought under vaccination.