The number of rabid animals rose 250% last year, mostly from abroad

The data were based on actual bodies of animals examined in Agriculture Ministry labs and suspected of being infected with rabies.

By
January 16, 2018 18:20
1 minute read.
A jackal stands in a field near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, just outside the southern Gaza Strip.

A jackal stands in a field near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, just outside the southern Gaza Strip.. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

The number of rabies cases reported in mammals in 2017 – 74 – was 250% that of the previous year, and the number of infected jackals – 47 – was almost 10 times as large as in 2016.

By comparison, there were only nine rabid animals, six of them jackals, in 2006.

This was reported on Tuesday in a document prepared by the Knesset Research and Information Center. The data were based on actual bodies of animals examined in Agriculture Ministry labs and suspected of being infected with rabies.

Although no human had died of the viral disease, the number of people exposed to rabid mammals was significantly higher last year and many had to be vaccinated against rabies.

Rabies is an incurable infectious disease transmitted to humans by mammals infected with the rabies virus. The virus, which is transmitted by bite or scratch, causes severe infection that damages the brain and central nervous system.

It is possible to prevent the development of the infection by vaccinating animals as well as by providing a preventive vaccine for people who may be in danger of infection or after exposure to the infected animal. A person who has not received preventive treatment and the infection has already developed in his body will suffer from various symptoms, such as high fever, headaches, anxiety, confusion, aggressive behavior, hydrophobia and hallucinations, and will die in the end.

About a third of the people who reported having been bitten or scratched by mammals were vaccinated; the figure of those vaccinated in 2016 was 5,370 – 44% of them in the North, 18% in Jerusalem, 17% in the Haifa region, 12% in the central region, 4% in Tel Aviv and 5% in the South.

According to estimates by the World Health Organization, rabies annually takes the lives of about 59,000 people worldwide, especially in underdeveloped countries in Asia and Africa.

The current situation has deteriorated because of the infiltration of rabid animals from beyond Israel’s borders, especially in the North, and inadequate efforts to supply rabies vaccine in bait left outdoors.

The Health Ministry is concerned that due to the growing risk, some people who do not go for vaccination will contract rabies.


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