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Human stories - rabies

24 June, 2019

Dear HIFA colleagues,

Human stories are anecdotal and among the lowest levels of evidence, and yet they have great power and educational value. I would be interested to hear your stories - of rabies or indeed of any aspect of health care, particularly where the outcome has been influenced by lack of information, hesitation, bad advice, or incorrect decisions/actions.

Extracts below (with thanks to Global Health Now). Full text here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/i-was-bitten-by-a-feral-dog-while-...


I was bitten by a feral dog while overseas. My search for rabies shots was a terrifying ordeal.

By the time I realized the dog was about to bite me, it was too late.

I’d seen the gaunt canine milling around, but feral dogs seemed to congregate on every corner in India, so one more roaming the grounds of Amritsar’s Partition Museum didn’t garner any special attention.

At least not until it sunk its incisors into my knee, leaving two bloody puncture marks...

According to the World Health Organization, 36 percent of all rabies deaths occur in India. And while any mammal can transmit the rabies virus, 99 percent of all human cases result from contact with an infected dog.

Post-exposure vaccinations are required to prevent the virus from taking hold. Without early treatment, rabies is almost always fatal...

A man in a quasimilitary uniform led us to an English-speaking doctor who prescribed antibiotics and a tetanus booster... But the wound wasn’t bad enough to transmit rabies, he said. I disagreed and asked the doctor to prescribe the vaccine. He refused...

His useless advice still rings in my ears.

“Just don’t get bitten by a dog,” he’d said...

[Eventually, after visiting two hospitals without rabies vaccine, the author finds the vaccine she needs]

'It was knowing the risks that saved my life.'


Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org