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Lagos govt launches anti-rabies campaign

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By Abraham Adekunle

Four-week free vaccination outreach to pet owners in Igando-Ikotun LCDA.

The general predisposition toward vaccinating a pet in Nigeria is weird. Generally, pet owners do not want to overspend on their animals, especially when they are of the lower or middle class. But it is still illegal for people of that economic situation to have pets. So, what happens is that they have pet but with little to less medical attention being paid to them. For instance, dogs roam the streets with all kinds of insects and dirt coming in contact with their body. Many of these animals carry dormant diseases in their body, which would be activated when in contact with a human being.

This is what informs the effort of the Lagos State Government. To avoid creating a nuisance or creating danger to the environment and people, it has launched a free anti-rabies vaccination campaign at Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area in Lagos. The state’s commissioner for agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, disclosed this at the flag-off ceremony of the 2023 outreach, which is themed “Rabies: One Health, Zero Deaths.” She noted that the state government would hold a four-week free anti-rabies vaccination for all pet owners.

LASG has held this program for its third consecutive year.

Ms. Olusanya, who was represented by Mrs. Olatokunbo Emokpae, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, explained that the government would issue certificates to pet owners after the exercise. She urged the general public to take advantage of this window of free vaccination program being carried out simultaneously at the state government veterinary hospitals and clinics in all the divisions of the state to vaccinate their pets. According to her, this is the third consecutive year that the government would carry out this laudable program.

By the year 2030, the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu aims to achieve the Global Strategy Plan for the elimination of dog-mediated human rabies death. “This is so especially with the bill which regulates ownership, licensing, sales of pets as well as prohibiting and restricting people from having dangerous animals in public places,” she said. Ms. Olusanya urged all animal owners to be deliberate and intentional in keeping all their pets and animals under strict control so that they do not constitute any nuisance or danger to others in the environment.

Veterinary services dept urges all to avoid playing with unfamiliar pets.

Rabies is a serious illness, a viral zoonotic disease that causes progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, almost resulting in death. The virus infects the central nervous system through its spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. The program was organized in collaboration with the department of Veterinary Services in Lagos Ministry of Agriculture. Mrs. Olayinka Akeredolu, the state coordinator of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Oko-Oba, urged participants at the program that all dogs should be vaccinated against rabies and that youths in the state should not to play with animals they are not familiar with, adding they may be unvaccinated and carry rabies.

Dr. Emmanuel Adeaga, a molecular scientist and vaccine researcher, of the Centre for Control and Prevention of Zoonosis in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ibadan (UI), who spoke at the ceremony said that it was worrisome that over 59,000 people die of rabies annually and that countries must work to reduce these deaths. He said that most of the pandemic in the world was caused by animals. Because of this, people must be involved in happenings in their environment.

It is a must for everyone to vaccinate their pets.

In his presentation, Dr. Mark Ofua, the chairman of Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association, Lagos State Chapter, said that the organization was proud to work with the government to drive the initiative to eradicate rabies. According to him, everything that happens in the environment is each person’s problem. He said, “The stray dog on the street is your problem; you must be concerned about the status of your neighbors’ dog. Dogs don’t only bite their owners; they bite anybody, so all must be involved.”

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