Cat bites on rise in Kashmir, around 3,000 cases reported at ARC SMHS in one year: Data

People walk outside SMHS hospital in Srinagar. [FPK Photo/ Amir Bin Rafi]

Cats transmit rabies similar to dogs, most owners not following norms like vaccination: Officials

Srinagar: Cat bite cases have been on the rise in the Kashmir division in recent years, similar to the increase in dog bite incidents.

According to data obtained from the anti-rabies clinic at SMHS Hospital, approximately 2,824 cat bite cases have been reported.

Between April 2023 and March 2024, the Anti Rabies Clinic (ARC) at SMHS Hospital documented 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 leopards, jackals, eagles, and more.

Dr Mohammad Salim Khan, head of the Department of Community Medicine at GMC Srinagar, said that cats can transmit rabies just like dogs, and cat bite cases have been increasing.

“This is due to the rise to the growing trend of keeping cats as pets, especially post-COVID, but many pet owners fail to follow proper norms such as vaccination, deworming, timely treatment, and hygiene practices,” he said.

“We have observed an increase in the number of cases visiting the Anti Rabies Clinic at SMHS over the past two years, with nearly one-third of the cases involving cat exposures,” Dr Khan added.

Officials said that pet ownership has increased in Kashmir over the past decade. Unlike farm animals that provide milk, meat, and eggs, pets are kept purely for companionship. They stressed the importance of maintaining personal hygiene while handling pets to prevent zoonotic diseases.

“A person who intends to keep a pet must be mentally prepared to take proper care of it, including behavioural needs, adequate feeding, shelter, and healthcare facilities. It is irresponsible to bring home an animal without committing to its proper care,” officials said.

Reviewing the yearly data on bite cases, officials reported the following numbers: April 2015 to March 2016: 7,061 cases; April 2016 to March 2017: 5,832 cases; April 2017 to March 2018: 6,802 cases; April 2018 to March 2019: 6,397 cases; April 2019 to March 2020: 6,139 cases; April 2020 to March 2021: 4,808 cases; April 2021 to March 2022: 5,469 cases; April 2022 to March 2023: 6,875 cases; and April 2023 to March 2024: 8,652 cases

In total, approximately 58,000 cases have been registered at the Anti-Rabies Clinic from April 2015 to March 2024.

Rabies is a universally fatal viral disease, causing about 59,000 human deaths annually worldwide, with 95 percent of cases occurring in Africa and Asia. (KNO)

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