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Tanzania vaccinating stray dogs to keep human rabies at bay

On a cloudy Saturday evening last March, Collins Limo was strolling with his friend on dusty terrain in the Sakina suburb of the Tanzanian city of Arusha when he was attacked by a furious stray dog.

The enraged dog, with its mouth laden with white foam, charged out of the bush lining the dirt road.

“I tried to climb on a nearby tree, in fear,” Limo, 19, recalled. But he tripped and fell. The dog lunged at him and repeatedly bit him on the leg before his friend scared it away by hurling a stone.

After Limo limped home, his mother rushed him to the hospital where doctors recommended he be immunized against rabies.

Limo’s mother was asked to buy three doses of a life-saving vaccine from a drug store. He was injected and a few days later his wound started to heal. He knows he was lucky, although he is afraid of rabid dogs.

Many others are less fortunate. Approximately 59,000 people die from rabies worldwide every year, almost all infected by dogs.

Malaria, HIV and tuberculosis take much higher tolls. But the horrible suffering and symptoms caused by rabies are terrible.

“All these problems will be eliminated when stray dogs across the country are vaccinated and sterilized,” said Consolata Onditi, a senior municipal veterinary epidemiologist based in the northern Arusha city.


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