The Fact Maker

Manipal Institute of Virology creates nationwide awareness on ‘World Rabies Day’

Bengaluru : Manipal Institute of Virology (MIV), MAHE commemorated the 15th World Rabies Day by hosting an online international webinar on the 28th of September 2021. It is observed annually on the death anniversary of Louis Pasteur to commemorate his contributions to the development of the first rabies vaccine and to raise awareness of the disease worldwide. The theme for World Rabies Day, 2021, “Rabies: Facts. Not Fear”, emphasizes on ending fear among people and empowering people through facts to prevent rabies. The webinar featured eight presentations delivered by scientists and physicians from all over the world.

Dr. Chiranjay Mukhopadhyay, Director, Manipal Institute of Virology, welcomed the participants and provided an outline of the institute’s research activities and diagnostic techniques. He further highlighted the burden and endemicity of rabies in India. Rabies poses as a problem that requires One-health approach with integrated efforts for prevention, control and elimination. He also spoke about India’s national action plan on rabies, which seeks to eradicate the disease by 2030.

The webinar’s chief guest, Lt. gen. (Dr.) M.D. Venkatesh, Vice Chancellor, MAHE, opened the session and addressed the participants, emphasizing the importance of rabies awareness programs and initiatives. He added that Rabies contributes to 35% mortality, being 95% fatal but 100% preventable if efficient, co-operative efforts are in place.

The event was flagged off by Dr. Bernadette Abela-Ridder, Team leader, Department for the Control of Neglected Zoonotic Diseases, WHO, Switzerland who provided an elaborate account of the global burden of rabies and how its control and elimination is a part of the United Nation’s sustainable development goals. She concluded her remarks by expressing her hope that India would become a champion in achieving the “zero by 2030” goal through effective use of its public resources, academia, and expertise.

Dr. Abi Manesh, Associate Physician Grade II Infectious Diseases Research and Training Center (IDTRC), Department of Infectious Diseases, Christian Medical College, Vellore, provided an intriguing account of the Clinical management of Rabies Encephalitis. Dr. Amrita Pattanaik, Assistant Professor, Manipal Institute of Virology, Manipal, gave a comprehensive account of the Laboratory Diagnosis of Rabies. Dr. Ravish H S, Professor of Community Medicine, KIMS, Bangalore, elaborated on prevention and control of rabies India. Dr. Gowri Yale, Scientific and Technical Manager at Mission Rabies, India, referred to the rabies control programme in dogs as a ‘Mission with a Vision’ in Goa and neighbouring states. Dr. Harsha PK, Project Manager and Scientist at the COVID testing facility at the Institute for Stem cell science and regenerative medicine in Bangalore, India, discussed in detail the latest insights into the pathogenesis of rabies. Dr. Hildegund CJ Ertl, Professor at the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center, the Wistar Institute, Philadelphia USA. Dr. Ertl’s presentation focused on the various Rabies vaccines currently available and the upcoming vaccines in the pipeline. Dr. Ajay Kumar Tahlan, Director and Dr. Dimple Kasana, Officer, at the Central Research Institute, Kasauli India described the establishment of the Pasteur institute in Kasauli in 1900, followed by the merger of the CRI and the Pasteur institute of India in 1939, which focused on medical and public health research, vaccine production, and antisera.