250,000 people received treatment for rabies last year
Around 250,000 people received treatment for rabies across Türkiye last year alone, while approximately 59,000 people died from rabies in the span of 11 years, says Veterinarian Prof. Dr. Serkal Gazyağcı, the head of BUİATRİ Association in Türkiye and faculty member of Kırıkkale University.
“If we look at animals, especially dogs, the asymmetry in the eyes is important. If the eyes are not symmetrical, the first thing that comes to mind is that it might have rabies,” Gazyağcı said.
“In case of drooling, aggression or paralysis, or if it is known that it is a stray and unvaccinated animal, the suspicion of rabies should arise,” he added.
The death of Mustafa Erçetin, aged 10, who was diagnosed with rabies after a dog bite in the easter province of Bitlis’ Adilcevaz district, has brought to the fore the question of rabies cases in the country.
Expressing that rabies cases are witnessed every year, Gazyağcı said, “The last time we encountered it was in Kırıkkale four times in 2014.”
“It is known that cases also occur in different parts of Türkiye from time to time,” he added.
Gazyağcı conveyed that rabies has a cycle and that there is a transmission system. He said that the most important one is wildlife.
“In the wild, animals such as wolves, jackals, foxes and underground ferrets can transmit rabies either by directly biting people or by biting household and farm animals,” he said.
Noting that dogs kept on farms can come in contact with wild animals, Gazyağcı pointed out that rabies can be transmitted from all mammals.
He stated that farm animals are not vaccinated against rabies and that rabies vaccination is also a legal requirement, especially for dogs that are kept on the farm.
“It is useful to have this vaccine repeated every year for cats and dogs or other mammals at home,” he said.
Gazyağcı pointed out that foxes are the main source of rabies in Türkiye.
He also said that animals with tags on their ears, which are neutered and vaccinated, should also be paid attention to.
“Sometimes you will see animals with tags on the streets. This does not mean that they are completely vaccinated. It means that they have been neutered and vaccinated, but as you know, the vaccine provides immunity for only one year,” Gazyağcı said.
“After one year, even though the tag remains in place, this does not always mean that the animal is vaccinated,” he added.