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Shutdown puts rabies vaccination on hold

Govt hospitals ask pet owners to return after lockdown is lifted

Shutdown puts rabies vaccination on hold
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Chennai

The shutdown made it impossible for many dog owners in the city to vaccinate their pets against rabies. A visit by DT Next to the Madras Veterinary College revealed that the premier institute has stopped the crucial anti-rabies vaccination due to lack of staff. The hospital had also brought in a strict protocol under which pet owners are allowed to come only if they are healthy, without any COVID symptoms.

Only dogs and cows with life-threatening medical conditions are allowed inside the hospital, with other pet owners being advised to visit the hospital after lockdown is lifted.

“Among the zoonotic infections, rabies is more life-threatening than COVID19. But if you start rabies vaccination, there will be more footfall into the veterinary college, throwing social distancing norms out of gear. It’s a dicey situation between both the zoonosis. In my view, rabies vaccination should also be included along with the veterinary life-saving treatment,” opined a veterinary assistant surgeon, wishing not to be named. He added that a few private pet clinics in Chennai are offering an anti-rabies vaccine. When contacted, a senior veterinary official said like the government general hospitals, the veterinary institutes have also suspended regular vaccine programmes. “We have cut down certain services to reduce footfall so that social distancing can be maintained. During a medical emergency, running a veterinary hospital is an issue. The services like vaccination, tick treatment and pedicure for pets will resume once the lockdown is lifted,” the official said.

When pointed out the danger in delaying rabies vaccination, the veterinarian advised the pet owners to ensure that their dogs were kept indoors until normalcy returned. Dairy farmers and are also upset with the veterinary institutes for functioning with skeletal staff, offering only emergency care.

Tamil Nadu Milk Producers’ Association president KA Sengottuvel said though livestock sector was covered under the essential lists, several senior veterinarians in the ranks of joint directors and assistant directors were missing in the field.

The primary veterinary centres (PVCs) were also operating without senior veterinarians and professors. The quality of treatment for bovines in these centres was an issue, and the farmers visiting the PVCs with their cattle were concerned about the treatment. In a statement addressing Animal Husbandry Secretary K Gopal, the association demanded action against those abstaining from the duty.

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