Only close to 50 per cent of school students in the eighth and ninth grades are aware that rabies spreads through dogs, reveals a survey by the Madras Medical College (MMC) and the Institute of Community Medicine.
The survey was released as part of the World Rabies Day awareness campaign at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) on Wednesday. The campaign comprised an exhibition and a workshop about the disease.
The survey was carried out among 100 government and 100 private school students from eighth and ninth grades, undergraduate students of MMC and the general adult population.
According to the survey, only 51.7 per cent of the students knew that rabies spread through dogs. Even among those who were aware, only 37.3 per cent knew that it can also spread through licks, while 40.3 per cent knew it can spread through scratches. 15 per cent of the students were aware that rabies cannot be cured, while 42.8 percent knew it was a killer disease.
Meanwhile, awareness among rabies among the adult population seemed even lower than that of students. Only 33 per cent of those surveyed knew about the different modes of spreading, but 51 per cent knew it was not curable.
Awareness levels among MBBS students was considerably higher, but even among them, only 58 per cent knew the different modes of spreading. Sixty nine per cent of them knew that vaccination must be taken for even the bite of a pet dog. Minister for Health K C Veeramani, who was present on the occasion, said that all efforts must be taken to spread awareness about rabies as it could be easily prevented.
But despite the availability of vaccination, around 55,000 people die of rabies each year, he said. He appealed to the people to make use of the free rabies vaccination provided at all government hospitals.
RGGGH & MMC dean Dr V Kanagasabai said that the exhibition would be held in various schools in the city as part of the World Rabies Day Awareness Campaign.