Published Date: 2009-02-20 19:00:48
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Rabies, human - UAE ex India
Archive Number: 20090220.0723
RABIES, HUMAN - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES ex INDIA
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Tue 17 Feb 2009
Source: Gulf News online [edited]
Patient's death is 1st rabies fatality in UAE in 10 years
A man being treated for rabies at a local hospital died on Monday [16 Feb
2009], the 1st such death in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a decade.
Gulf News reported the labourer from India was admitted to Al Baraha
Hospital on 8 Feb 2009 after he started showing symptoms. Rabies is
transmitted through saliva and blood from an infected animal. The most
common method of transmission is through bites, and globally more than 90
per cent of infections come from bites from rabid dogs.
Dr Ali Al Marzouqi, director of public health at the Department of Health
and Medical Services, told Gulf News it was the 1st rabies case in the UAE
in a decade. "The last case was 10 or more years ago. I have been in the
public health sector for 9 years and this is the 1st case we've got," he said.
Dr Ali Shakar, director-general at the Ministry of Health, told Gulf News
the man's hand was bitten 6 months ago, prior to his arrival in the UAE.
"If he had sought treatment immediately after the bite, or even after he
arrived in the UAE, maybe he would have been okay," he said.
Treatment for rabies involves cleaning and disinfecting the wound, and
giving the victim a post-exposure vaccination as soon as possible. Rabies
is almost always fatal when symptoms show up. Dr Shakar said there was no
need to vaccinate anyone as the man's contacts in the UAE have not shown
signs of exposure to the virus. Exposure refers to a case where infected
saliva enters an open wound. "The main thing is this is not a public health
scare so there is no need to panic. It can happen anytime, anywhere in the
world," he said. "It doesn't transfer like other [infectious] diseases.
It's not bird flu," he added.
He also said the body would be buried according to the World Health
Organisation (WHO) procedures, which dictates the immediate burial or
cremation of the body. No special containers are required for the body,
although embalming is discouraged. Despite the case, health authorities are
unlikely to require incoming residents and workers to be screened for rabies.
"We have other more important diseases to watch out for like HIV,
tuberculosis and sexually-transmitted diseases, which are more infectious,"
Dr Marzouqi said. "And if someone gets rabies here, so what? Transmission
is rare and we have vaccines to treat people after they are bitten," he said.
Facts about rabies: Rabies is a zoonotic disease that kills 55 000 people a
year worldwide, mostly in rural areas in Asia and Africa. It 1st shows up
with flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, and fatigue. Then it
progresses to involve the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and the central
nervous systems. It also leads to hydrophobia or fear of water, due to
spasms in the throat. The patient develops hyperactivity, called furious
rabies, or paralysis, called dumb rabies.
UAE regulations: Pets are required to be vaccinated. Rabies is a notifiable
disease under the public health laws, requiring all sectors to report an
[byline: Nina Muslim]
ProMED-Mail rapporteur Susan Baekeland
[An unfortunate accompaniment of the global migration of populations.
The HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of the United Arab Emirates is
accessible at <http://healthmap.org/promed/en?v=23.9,54.3,5>. - Mod.CP]