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Cat Bite Cases Rise in Kashmir, SMHS Reports 2,824 Incidents

In recent years, the Kashmir division has seen a significant increase in cat bite cases, mirroring the trend observed with dog bite incidents. According to data from the Anti Rabies Clinic (ARC) at SMHS Hospital, about 2,824 cat bite cases have been reported. This alarming rise has been highlighted by healthcare professionals and is causing concern among the community.

Between April 2023 and March 2024, the ARC at SMHS Hospital documented a total of 8,652 bite cases. These included 5,386 dog bite cases, 2,844 cat bite cases, 27 monkey bite cases, 95 cow bite cases, 14 bear bite cases, 12 wild boar bite cases, and 294 other bite cases involving animals such as leopards, jackals, and eagles. The surge in cat bites is particularly noteworthy and has drawn attention from both medical professionals and the public.

Dr. Mohammad Salim Khan, head of the Department of Community Medicine at GMC Srinagar, emphasized that cats, like dogs, can transmit rabies. He noted that the number of cat bite cases has been rising, which he attributes to an increasing trend of keeping cats as pets, particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Khan pointed out that many pet owners do not adhere to proper norms such as vaccination, deworming, timely treatment, and maintaining hygiene practices. This negligence has contributed to the rise in cat bite cases, as well as the potential risk of rabies transmission.

The increase in pet ownership in Kashmir over the past decade has also been a factor. Unlike farm animals that provide products like milk, meat, and eggs, pets are kept primarily for companionship. Officials stress the importance of maintaining personal hygiene while handling pets to prevent zoonotic diseases.

Officials underscore that responsible pet ownership requires a commitment to proper care, including attending to pets’ behavioral needs, providing adequate feeding, shelter, and healthcare facilities. They caution against the irresponsible act of bringing home an animal without being prepared to meet these needs.

Reviewing the yearly data on bite cases, there has been a noticeable fluctuation in the numbers. From April 2015 to March 2016, there were 7,061 cases, which decreased in the following years, hitting a low of 4,808 cases between April 2020 to March 2021. However, there has been a sharp increase in recent years, culminating in 8,652 cases between April 2023 and March 2024.

In total, approximately 58,000 cases have been registered at the Anti-Rabies Clinic from April 2015 to March 2024. This data underscores the persistent and growing challenge of animal bites in the region, necessitating continued public health efforts.

Rabies remains a universally fatal viral disease, causing around 59,000 human deaths annually worldwide, with 95 percent of cases occurring in Africa and Asia. The rise in cat bite incidents in Kashmir adds to this global health concern, emphasizing the need for heightened awareness and preventive measures in pet care and public health policies.

Efforts to combat this issue must include education on responsible pet ownership, the importance of regular veterinary care, and public health initiatives to manage and reduce the risk of rabies transmission.

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