The Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Obadia Njagi has called for an enumeration exercise to determine the number of cats and dogs in the country.
While conceding that the cost of the exercise would be close to the recently concluded national census, Dr. Njagi said that the ‘dog and cat census’ would help tame the rising cases of rabies related deaths in the country.
“Figures are important for planning, the excise is quite an expensive affair and it would cost almost the same money spent on human population census,” explained the leading veterinary doctor.
Rabies is a contagious and fatal viral disease of dogs and other mammals, transmissible through the saliva to humans and causing madness and convulsions.
Rabies claims an estimated 1000 lives every year in Kenya, and the number is on the rise following a global ban using poison to control animal population.
98 percent cases of human rabies in the country are dog mediated.
Kenya Veterinary Association (KVA) says the country must encourage people to have responsible dog ownership by ensuring their animals are vaccinated against the disease.
Vaccines, not poison
KVA chairman Dr. Samuel Kahariri asserted that Kenya is facing uncontrolled breeding of dogs and cats with hundreds of the animals being left to roam freely around in towns thus posing serious danger to people in case rabies infection.
“Rabies is almost 100 percent fatal in human and but it is preventable through vaccination. We need to vaccinate 70 per cent of the entire dog population so that we can eradicate the disease,” he said.
Dr. Kahariri said that Kenya has banned poisoning of dogs using a deadly drug called Strychnine, because the chemical is an inhumane way of managing animal population.
“Some years back Kenya and other countries were using some chemicals to kill stray dogs, while others were stoning them to death. We want to encourage people to own dogs responsibly,” he said, pointing out that castration is an option.
He said the cost of treating rabies in human is estimated to be Ksh.5000 and therefore all efforts should be done to stop spread of the disease.
“A lot of dogs are roaming around the country without housing and proper case, these dogs have been seen to be the cause of this increase in rabies in the country and we need to put lot of emphasis to eradicate this disease,” Dr. Kahariri said.
It is estimated that there are 4000 dogs in Mombasa out of which 3500 were vaccinated against rabies last year.
“Some 18 dogs and cats were found to have been infected with rabies last year and were able to control the spread of the disease. In our budget this financial year, we plan to spend Ksh.5 million on drugs to fight rabies,” said county executive committee member for Agriculture and Livestock Hassan Mwamtoa.
Mwamtoa said the county is in the process of reviewing by-laws on animal control that will among others help deal with cases of stray animals in the town.