Kerala homoeopathic doctor dies of rabies after avoiding treatment

Early intervention is critical to prevent the onset of rabies symptoms, as rabies is considered almost certainly fatal once they begin.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 28, 2024 | 8:48 AM Updated May 28, 2024 | 11:55 AM


A homoeopathic doctor, Dr Ramlath of Mannarkkadu in the Palakkad district of Kerala, succumbed to rabies on Monday, 27 May, after reportedly avoiding anti-rabies treatment following a dog scratch.

It all began around two months ago when Ramlath was bitten by her pet dog, which later died.

This raised concerns about a potential rabies infection, which is known to be almost certainly fatal once the patient starts showing symptoms like hydrophobia.

Early intervention is critical to prevent the onset of rabies symptoms, experts have said.

Also Read: Why even a scratch should be taken seriously

Avoiding rabies treatment

Despite knowing the risks, the 40-year-old doctor is said to have chosen to forego the recommended post-exposure prophylaxis.

However, as she began experiencing severe symptoms, she first sought treatment at a private hospital in Mannarkkad in the Palakkad district.

As her condition worsened, she was shifted to the Government Tribal Specialty Hospital in Attappady in the same district.

She was subsequently referred to the district hospital and then to the Government Medical College Hospital in Thrissur, where she was put under observation.

However, she kept insisting on going back to her home in Kumaramputhur near Mannarkkad.

She and her husband reportedly left the Thrissur hospital on Sunday night and went home without the permission of the hospital authorities while being under treatment.

There her condition deteriorated, and she passed away on Monday evening.

Samples taken from her body confirmed rabies.

To those who came in close contact with her, health officials reiterated the importance of seeking immediate medical attention and appropriate vaccination following any potential rabies exposure.

Also Read: Kerala panel suggests anti-rabies vaccines for kids

Kerala and rabies

Kerala has had a difficult time fighting rabies over the past few years. For example, a couple of rabies deaths in 2022 shed light on the presence of rabies among wildlife in the state.

Back then, rights activist Prof Kusumam Joseph said: “The infection among wild animals is a matter of grave concern.”

She added: “As human-animal conflicts are very high in Kerala and stray dogs often interfere with crop-raiding wild animals, urgent measures are needed.”

She also said: “Immediate intervention in the case of wild animals is required, along with the ongoing statewide anti-rabies vaccination drive for stray dogs.”

​According to public health activist Dr NM Arun, several wild animals were ​known as carriers of viruses, including the rabies lyssavirus, which causes rabies.

​He pointed out that regular encounters between wild and domestic animals ​were happening in most forest areas of Kerala, which could reduce the impact of vaccination campaigns ​in the state.

Last year, the Karnataka Health Department directed all government hospitals to provide anti-rabies vaccines (ARVs) and rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) free of cost as per requirement for all animal-bite victims.

A circular issued on 6 October by the state’s Health and Family Welfare Services commissioner said: “No animal-bite victim shall be denied treatment irrespective of their possession of APL/BPL card.”

It added: “Therefore, it is hereby directed to provide ARV and RIG free of cost as per requirement for all animal bite victims.”

It also said: “The medical officers are instructed to judiciously use the RIG as per the NRCP recommendations.”

The NRCP — the National Rabies Control Programme — has been set up with the mission statement “Elimination of dog-bite mediated rabies by 2030”.

(With PTI inputs).