Veterinary doctors in Lagos have called on pet owners in the country to ensure adequate vaccination of their pets.
The call was made in Lagos during a mass vaccination exercise to mark the World Rabies Day 2019.
Chairman of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), Lagos Chapter, Dr. Olufemi Aroso at the two-day event, told journalists what the association stands for.
Introducing the association, Aroso said the group is a non-profit organisation which aims at furthering the cause of the profession.
“The association is a non-profit organisation seeking to further a particular profession, the interest of individuals engaged in that profession and the public interest,” he said.
The Chairman also added that, the association provides services such as education and political advocacy, helping members to network, share knowledge and promote public awareness for a cause.
Aroso’s predecessor, Dr. Alao Mobolaji also told journalists that there is no coordinating action against rabies in Nigeria.
“Unfortunately there is no coordinating action against rabies in Nigeria and that for us is heart breaking. The only one being taken is the one we are doing by enlightening the public,” Alao said, urging pet owners to ensure adequate vaccination of their pets.
Stating further, he lamented the loss of several individuals to rabies through dog bites.
“We have lost people to dog bites. There was a time two bankers died. They were attacked by dogs and they were brought to us they showed signs of being bitten by dogs and they died eventually. Of all I know we are the only one enlightening the public and we need to sensitise the public,” he said.
According to Alao, there are between two and three million dogs in Lagos State alone performing different roles in the society. He also stated that dogs are the major carriers of rabies and owners must ensure adequate vaccination.
“With estimation, we have about two to three million dogs in Lagos State alone. And you know they are the closest to man. They do a lot of things for us. They protect, they can lead the blind, they are used to check for narcotics. They serve different purposes but mostly they are used to safeguard the environment and a lot of people use them for economic gains.
“What we actually want the public to know is that they are the main carriers of the virus and every dog needs to be properly vaccinated against rabies annually. That is the number one step to preventing dogs against rabies.
“Every dog owner has the responsibility of vaccinating the dog, taking the dog to the veterinary clinic and getting it duly vaccinated against rabies,” he said.
Talking about the cost, Alao said the cost of vaccinating the dog outweighs the damage an infected dog would cause.
“The rabies vaccines are available in every vet clinic and so affordable. It is about N3,000 and with that you get your pet immunised for a whole year. I don’t know anything more economical than that,” he said.
In his own submission, another member of the association, Dr. Balogun Stephen however advised pet owners to play safe by immunising their pets against rabies.
“What I like people to know is that rabies is a disease. As long as we keep dogs in our environment we are actually playing with rabies. If the dog is not duly vaccinated the pet owner is not safe.
According to him, owner of pet which has not been vaccinated is playing with death once the dog is infected.
“Such pet owner is playing with death because if the dog has rabies and if there is any situation that warrants the dog biting someone and once the clinical signs start manifesting in the victim, death is inevitable if appropriate preventive care is not taken. Certainly the person should just be waiting for death,” he explained.
Balogun however stated that rabies can be arrested only if quick action is taken after a dog bite. “It depends on the stage. The gap between the time of the bite and the time of intervention means a lot.
“Usually it does not cost much to treat. It costs very little to do the necessary things. But sometimes people try to prevent it. They patronise people who don’t even have the right vaccines; those vaccines you cannot trust,” he said.
The vaccination exercise was carried out on the final day of the World Rabies Day during which 44 dogs were vaccinated at Ijaiye Ojokoro Local Government Area of Lagos State.