by Babra Wani
SRINAGAR: The passing of Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Ramban on Friday reveals a more intricate story than initially apparent. ASI Muhammad Rafiq Naik, stationed at the District Police Station Ramban, succumbed to a seemingly innocuous scratch that was overlooked until it escalated into a severe case of rabies.
Naik had interacted with a rabid dog three months ago near Neel Valley, a short distance from Banihal. “The dog had attacked Rafiq who used a stick to defend himself, leading to minor scratches on his fingers,” stated the deceased’s uncle, Bashir Ahmad Naik, also the DDC Ramsoo-A. “After a single vaccination, Rafiq dismissed the scratches, assuming they were from the stick, not a dog bite, and didn’t pursue further treatment.” It later emerged that the scratch and the dog’s drool on his clothes transmitted rabies.
This week, the 52-year-old officer experienced deteriorating health. He was rushed to the district hospital and subsequently referred to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for advanced treatment after being diagnosed with rabies. “AIIMS couldn’t assist him, given the advanced infection and resulting hydrophobia,” explained Bashir. “On his way back, he passed away on Friday near Akhnoor.”
Rafiq had lost his father to illness over a month ago. He is survived by his widow, mother, and four children, aged from 3 to 20. Dr Muhammad Salim Khan, Professor and HOD of Community Medicine at Government Medical College Srinagar, warned that untreated rabies can be fatal. “Survival cases are extremely rare,” he noted.
Dr Khan outlined warning signs in rabid dogs, such as “incessant drooling, aggression, biting objects like stones and wood, and chasing people or vehicles.”
He further advised that if a rabid dog scratches or bites a human, “the affected area should be thoroughly washed for over fifteen minutes, followed by immediate medical attention.” A total of five vaccination shots are administered: the first on the incident’s day, the second on the third day, the third on the seventh day, the fourth on the fourteenth day, and the fifth on the twenty-eighth day.
The virus spreads through nerves, according to Dr. Salim. “Symptoms may emerge after three, four, or even six months from the initial exposure.” He disclosed that the Anti-Rabies Clinic at SMHS reported approximately 5,000 dog bites and 1,100 cat bites from April 2022 to March 2023. Dr Salim urged individuals to ensure their pets receive complete vaccinations and regular checks from certified veterinarians before bringing them in.