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Rabies as a public health concern in India – a historical perspective

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Title: Rabies as a public health concern in India – a historical perspective
Authors: Radhakrishnan, S
Vanak, AT
Nouvellet, P
Donnelly, C
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: India bears the highest burden of global dog-mediated human rabies deaths. Despite this, rabies is not notifiable in India and continues to be underprioritised in public health discussions. This review examines the historical treatment of rabies in British India, a disease which has received relatively less attention in the literature on Indian medical history. Human and animal rabies was widespread in British India, and treatment of bite victims imposed a major financial burden on the colonial Government of India. It subsequently became a driver of Pasteurism in India and globally and a key component of British colonial scientific enterprise. Efforts to combat rabies led to the establishment of a wide network of research institutes in India and important breakthroughs in development of rabies vaccines. As a result of these efforts, rabies no longer posed a significant threat to the British, and it declined in administrative and public health priorities in India towards the end of colonial rule—a decline that has yet to be reversed in modern-day India. The review also highlights features of the administrative, scientific and societal approaches to dealing with this disease in British India that persist to this day.
Issue Date: 21-Oct-2020
Date of Acceptance: 16-Oct-2020
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/84855
DOI: 10.3390/tropicalmed5040162
ISSN: 2414-6366
Publisher: MDPI
Journal / Book Title: Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Volume: 5
Issue: 4
Copyright Statement: ©2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open accessarticle distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution(CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Sponsor/Funder: Medical Research Council (MRC)
Wellcome Trust
Funder's Grant Number: MR/R015600/1
Keywords: British India
Civil Veterinary Department
Pasteur Institute
stray dogs
stray dogs; Pasteur Institute; colonial; British India; Civil Veterinary Department
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: ARTN 162
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Medicine
School of Public Health

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