In a bid to address growing concerns surrounding an increase in the mongoose population and the associated risk of rabies transmission, health officials took to dispelling rumours about a supposed shortage in rabies treatment on the island.
Chief Environmental Health Officer, Kenneth Hazzard addressed reports on social media at a press conference on the issue unequivocally stating that, “We do have available treatment for rabies in Grenada.”
This reassurance comes at a critical time as the Vector Control and Environment Department intensifies efforts to control the growing mongoose population, considered hosts to the deadly rabies virus, which is usually spread to people through an animal bite.
Hazzard, who confirmed that there have been “several reports of mongoose bites and dog bites” advises against making contact with the rodent, which has become an agricultural pest and proves difficult to control despite hunting and poisoning efforts.
“We are calling on the public – do not try to engage (a) mongoose please, especially those that would seem to be infected with the (rabies) virus,” warned the Chief Environmental Health Officer who hinted at the potential threats of rabies infection.
To tackle the issue at hand, the Vector Control and Environment Department has initiated the setting of traps, achieving notable success by capturing over 70 mongooses in a single day around the airport area. Mongoose is among the list of animals that are most likely to spread rabies including dogs, bats, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and foxes.
Rabies has no known cure primarily because the virus rapidly attacks the central nervous system, making it difficult to target with traditional antiviral medications. Research into potential treatments is ongoing, but as of now, prevention through vaccination remains the most effective strategy.
Hazzard encourages persons to “take immediate action,” if bitten by a mongoose, a dog, or any animal that can carry the deadly disease. He advised washing the wound with soap and water and emphasised the crucial step of seeking medical attention without delay.
“… Seek medical attention. Do not sit at home,” he said. This warning comes in the wake of a dengue fever outbreak earlier this year. The Vector Control and Environment Department, in collaboration with the public, launched a successful dengue fever control project in March.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Shawn Charles, provided an update on the situation, noting a “progressive decline” in cases since the peak in June. “We only experience maybe five (5) cases or less on a weekly basis,” Dr. Charles stated but cautioned that ongoing efforts are essential to prevent future issues with these endemic diseases.
“This is a disease that is endemic to the country and continues to be circulated, so continued efforts will be required to ensure that we do not have future issues,” he remarked.
As health authorities work to address these public health concerns, citizens are reminded to remain vigilant, and cooperate with measures aimed at controlling both the mongoose population and the spread of diseases like rabies and dengue fever. Health officials affirm that public awareness, and prompt action remain key in safeguarding the well-being of the community.