Published Date: 2007-11-15 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Rabies, canine, bovine - India: (Kerala), susp.
Archive Number: 20071115.3708
RABIES, CANINE, BOVINE - INDIA: (KERALA), SUSPECTED
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Tue 13 Nov 2007
Source: The Hindu, Kerala [edited]
Nearly a 100 people from Aanappara, near Vithura, were administered
anti-rabies vaccination shots at Government Medical College Hospital
(MCH) here on Monday [12 Nov 2007] following a mass hysteria that
they might have contracted rabies from the milk of a cow whose calf
had displayed symptoms of the disease.
The MCH authorities had to open up the auditorium to accommodate the
hundreds of people who hired a bus and came to the hospital claiming
that the milk of the cow had been supplied to a local teashop they
had gone to. Several local body leaders too accompanied the group.
Health officials said the calf, owned by a local woman, was bitten by
a rabid dog last week [5-11 Nov 2007]. Though the calf was
subsequently vaccinated, the local people killed it as they suspected
that it had begun to display symptoms of rabies.
Even though the cow was not rabid, people started raising doubts that
the cow could have contracted the virus from the calf's saliva.
When it turned out that the cow's milk had been supplied to a local
teashop, all those who had visited the shop turned up at the Vithura
hospital on Sunday [11 Nov 2007] fearing that they might have
contracted the virus through the milk. They were referred to the MCH
as the hospital was not equipped to handle the situation.
The doctors at the Community Medicine department pointed out to the
people that it was extremely rare that rabies spread through milk. In
this instance, the cow was not even rabid.
Also, the rabies virus was heat-sensitive and if at all it was
present in the milk, it would have been destroyed when the milk was
boiled. However, when doubts were raised if the milk had been
properly boiled, the MCH authorities decided that they would
administer the anti-rabies vaccine to all those who said they needed
The district medical administration offered to supply the necessary
vaccine for everyone. All those who took the 1st dose will have to be
given 2 more doses in subsequent weeks to complete the vaccination
Editor, Animal People
[The rabies vaccine has been applied, in this case, indeed as an
anti-hysteria medication. There was no other justification for its
application in those who drank the milk; rabies does not infect the
The only people who might have been exposed to the rabies virus were
those who handled the bitten calf during slaughtering, provided this
took place more than a week after the dog's attack (has the dog's
brain been examined?).
An interesting lesson for public health educators. - Mod.AS]
[Vithura is a small village situated 36 km (22 mi) from
Thiruvananthapuram, capital of the Kerala state in southwestern
India, which can be located on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive
<http://healthmap.org/promed?v=22.9,79.6,5>. - CopyEd.MJ]