On Tuesday, in Royapuram, Chennai, a stray dog started attacking passersby without provocation. This created a lot of panic in the area as the dog bit 29 people, including school-going kids and the elderly. The mob then pelted the dog with stones to death.
People who witnessed the incident believed that the dog must have been rabid. They said that the dog, which was just lying around in a busy street in north Chennai, suddenly started biting the people walking on the street. The dog bit them on their ankles and feet without letting go, even when the victims tried to vigorously push the dog off them. The Chennai Corporation officers were then promptly alerted. They came and collected the corpse of the canine and sent it to the Government Veterinary College Hospital for a postmortem. The veterinarian, Dr. Kamal Hussain, stated that since the dog started attacking passersby without any stimulation from them, there is a possibility that it could have been affected by rabies. He added that the reports to confirm the same will be available in the following days.
In the sudden attack by the stray, 24 people sustained very deep cuts and bleeding, which are categorized as third-degree wounds, with a high possibility of the saliva of the canine being transmitted to the people. 10 of the 29 people attacked were schoolchildren. The elderly people who were attacked had fallen on the road and sustained secondary injuries to their heads. All those affected were then rushed to the Government Stanley Medical College and Hospital.
The head of the Department of Medicine, Dr. S. Chandrashekar, explained that they had thoroughly washed the wounded areas of the victims and administered anti-rabies immunoglobulin at the wound site to prevent the spread of the virus to the central nervous system. They were also started with the first dose of the anti-rabies vaccine and must receive four more shots on days 3, 7, 14, and 28 (1) to complete the vaccination.
Professor Balagangatharthilakar then commented that victims of dog bites should receive the anti-rabies immunoglobulins and vaccine within 12 hours. He then went on to explain that the dead dog’s brain would be subjected to postmortem fluorescent antibody tests to verify if it was infected with the virus. However, in live dogs, smears from the cornea and saliva will be tested. These tests may be inconclusive if the viral loads in the collected samples are lower. He further added that the stray dogs normally living in packs may chase vehicles and people in packs if they smell some other dog’s scent. But a lone stray attacking the public when unprovoked is an indicator of the possibility that they might be infected with rabies.
Since stray dogs live in packs, it is vital to isolate all of them and carry out tests to identify if any of the other ones in the pack were infected as well. Chennai Corporation had captured around 32 dogs from the area and kept them in captivity for further observation.
(Input from various media sources)
1. Koury R, Warrington SJ. Rabies. StatPearls [Internet]. 2022 Oct 31 [cited 2023 Nov 24]; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448076/