Arua district to enact ordinances to fight rabies

By Jurugo Emmanuel Ogasto

Arua district leaders have agreed to enact ordinances and by-laws at the district and sub-county levels in an effort to eradicate rabies in all refugee settlements and districts.

The leaders said once ordinances and by-laws had been put in place, people would be forced to restrain their dogs and pets from roaming in  public.

The local leaders made the commitment during the commemoration of the World Rabies Day at Vurra sub-county headquarters in Vurra County, Arua district on Wednesday.

The day marked under the theme: Rabies – “Spread facts, not fear” was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Food and Agricultural Organization, and Arua district local government among other partners.

During the function, officials from the ministry vaccinated and castrated dogs and cats in a bid to minimize the spread of the disease in the district.

“Today, we are celebrating this world rabies day and our major theme is to end this rabies in our communities by 2030. As a Local Government, we are going to introduce or put in place by-laws at sub-county level; sustainability. We have celebrated this day and people have brought their dogs here for vaccination, but we want sustainability,” Jude Mark Bukenya, the Arua district Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) said.

According to Dr. Willy Nguma, the Arua district veterinary officer, Arua district was endemic to rabies just like other districts of West Nile region.

“The disease we are suffering from is dog mediated rabies. That means most infections come through bites from dogs that are in many cases suspected to be infected by rabies. I also want to point out clearly that not every bite of a dog will result in infection, but also I want people to know and understand that not only dogs and cats can spread rabies because even pigs, goats and sheep which are infected are likely to spread rabies,” Nguma said.

However, he noted that rabies were 100 percent preventable and it was where all people’s hearts had to settle.

Nguma observed that in the greater Arua district (Arua City, Terego and Arua districts), every month, they received reports of animal bites ranging from an average of 25 to 35 cases.

“The implication is that every one other day, there are people who come to report cases of animal bites. The situation has improved; I think people are now getting conscious that every animal bite must be reported to a responsible authority. I must say I am happy about that,” Nguma said.

Alfred Okuonzi, the Arua district chairperson said as a district, time had come for them to take action to prevent rabies in the area.

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