Shimla, Feb 13 (IANS) New research by experts based in Himachal Pradesh has shown that the new human protocol for rabies prophylaxis, also approved by the WHO, could also be effective in treating cattle bitten by rabid dogs.

This line of treatment has not only proved to be lifesaving for the animals but is also a low cost protocol for rabies prophylaxis, meaning to prevent rabies after a dog bite.

At present, the treatment is to administer five doses of intramuscular rabies vaccine to the cattle without rabies immunoglobulins, Omesh Kumar Bharti, the lead author of the study told IANS.

Bharti is a field epidemiologist with the Himachal Pradesh government here.

The new protocol advocates five injections each comprising 0.2ml of animal rabies vaccine to be injected intradermally in the middle of the neck and an injection of equine rabies immunoglobulin into the wound(s) only as was approved last month by the WHO in humans.

The study "Exploring the feasibility of a new low cost intra-dermal pre and post exposure rabies prophylaxis protocol in domestic bovine in Jawali Veterinary Hospital in Kangra district" was done with the collaboration of veterinary experts in Himachal Pradesh and was published this month in the World Journal of Vaccines.

Co-authors in the research include state Senior Veterinary Officer Uppinder Sharma, who is posted at Jawali town, and Adarsh Kumar, head of the Department of Surgery and Radiology in veterinary college at CSK Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University in Palampur.

The idea to evolve a new line of treatment came after the researchers observed that seven of 21 bovines bitten by rabid dogs, who were given intramuscular vaccination, died due to rabies in the Shimla municipality two years ago.

According to the researchers, 150 cattle were tested with this new protocol after they were bitten by the suspected or lab confirmed rabid dogs or mongoose.

The brains of the rabid dogs and mongoose were tested at the Central Research Institute (CRI) in Kasauli.

The serum samples of 15 of these animals were sent to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru for determining antibody titers. On day 14, the samples were found to be proactive as per the WHO norms.

Apart from this post exposure prophylaxis, the researchers also developed a new pre-exposure prophylaxis protocol of injecting 0.2ml rabies vaccine to the cattle on the day first, third and seventh with a booster dose of 0.2ml after one year.

The study also suggests to the animal owners to vaccinate the calves when they are four months old and then annually to prevent them from contracting rabies.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

--IANS

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