Rabies risk is medically identified from eating dogs & cats
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2009:
HANOI–People who prepare dog and cat meat for human
consumption are at risk of contracting rabies, warned medical
researcher Heiman Wertheim, M.D. in the March 18, 2009 edition of
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Wertheim and colleagues from the National Institute of
Infectious & Tropical Diseases and the National Institute of Hygiene
& Epidemiology in Hanoi, Vietnam, researched the association of dog
meat with rabies after encountering two cases.
The first patient “had prepared and eaten a dog who was
killed in a road accident; rabid dogs were known to inhabit the
neighborhood. The second patient butchered and ate a cat who had
been sick for a number of days,” e-mailed Wertheim to members of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases.
“It is thought that infection occurred during the
slaughtering [or butchering], and not by eating the meat,” Wertheim
continued, “as the meals were shared by others who did not become
Rabid dogs have been found in dog slaughterhouses, where
workers are vaccinated as part of the national rabies control
program, Wertheim explained, but people who kill dogs for personal
consumption usually are not vaccinated.
“Vietnamese doctors already consider dog slaughtering a risk
factor for rabies transmission, but it is important that other
health care workers and policy makers, both inside and outside
Vietnam, are aware of this risk factor,” Wertheim concluded.
Shamsudeen Fagbo of the Depart-ment of Tropical Veterinary
Diseases at the University of Pretoria in South Africa responded to
the Wertheim posting by suggesting that rabies is also contracted
through killing and butchering dogs and cats in parts of Africa.
“In Nigeria,” posted Fagbo to the scientifically refereed
ISID ProMed mailing list, “dog eating is very common in states such
as Plateau, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Kaduna, Kebbi and Ondo. Cat
eating, though not as common as dog eating, can also be encountered,
even in cosmopolitan places such as Lagos. While human consumption
of bats is also common,” Fagbo added, “there seems to have been
little or no local effort (as per the limited information available)
to evaluate the risk of rabies transmission.
“Rabies is no doubt underreported and probably misdiagnosed
in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa,” Fagbo continued. “Cultural and
religious beliefs will also contribute to the underreporting of
human rabies that may arise from the consumption of infected but
apparently healthy dogs and cats. The [rabies-related] Lagos bat and
Mokola lyssaviruses remain under-diagnosed in the human populace.”
Fagbo pointed out that a little-noticed paper entitled
“Rabies in apparently healthy dogs: histological and
immunohistochemical studies,” published in 2006 in The Nigerian
Postgraduate Medical Journal, identified dog-eating as a high-risk
practice in restaurants near two military barracks in Maiduguri, an
overwhelmingly Muslim city where eating dogs is otherwise culturally
forbidden. The researchers found evidence of rabies in the heads of
16 of 52 dogs who had been butchered. “If the observations [of
authors B.B. Ajayi, J.S. Rabo JS, and S.S. Baba] are confirmed,”
wrote Fagbo, “this, in their words, ‘signifies a new dimension in
the epidemiology of the disease.'”
Also in 2006, rabies was linked to two human fatalities in
“Ressia Mae Edoria, 4, of Barangay Molobolo, Cauayan,
Negros Occidental died last December of rabies and encephalitis,
days after neighbors gave her dog meat” at a drinking party,”
reported Margaux C. Ortiz of The Philippine Inquirer in Makati City
on February 1, 2006. “Renante Edoria, the girl’s father, said his
daughter suffered from high fever and exhibited symptoms of rabies
shortly after eating the meat.”
Hospitalized on December 13, 2005, Ressie Edoria died a few
hours later. Animal Kingdom Foundation veterinarian Winston
Samaniego told Ortiz that the rabies virus may have attacked her as
rapidly as it did by entering her nervous system though a tooth
“I am now appealing to everyone to stop eating dogs to avoid
this kind of tragedy,” said Renante Edoria.
In June 2006, the Philippines Sun Star reported, “One man
died and 23 others are under observation after eating rabid dogs in
Maasin, Iloilo. Rolando Carmelita, Jr. died after he cooked and ate
a rabid dog. He also fed the meal to his relatives. Not contented,
they cooked and ate two more rabid dogs.”
Added Greg Salido Quimpo of Animal Kingdom Foundation, “The
victim’s mother is a village councilor. She passed a resolution
banning the eating of dogs.”
Malaysian Society of Parasitology & Tropical Medicine
president S. Vellayan, M.D. warned in July 2008 via Marjorie Chiew
of The Star of Malaysia that rabies is only one of the health hazards
of eating dogs, after politicians objecting to the presence of
street dogs suggested that the dog should be eaten.
“Eating stray dogs is not encouraged,” Vellayan said,
“because some of them may have viruses, bacteria and parasites and
can bring about parasitic problems such as cysts and tapeworm
infection. These can be transmitted from animals to humans if the
meat is not cooked thoroughly. People can also be infected with
tapeworms and rabies when slaughtering the infected animals with
their bare hands,” Vellayan cautioned.
Vellayan suggested that rabies might be more common in dogs
from northern and border states. He also cited risk of dog-eaters
contracting tuberculosis, salmonellosis and leptospirosis.
“Protozoan diseases such as toxoplasmosis can be transmitted via the
oral route to humans,” summarized Chiew. “In the congenital form,
transplacental infection can take place in the early months of a
woman’s pregnancy, resulting in abortion or stillbirth.”
Increasing recognition of eating dogs and cats as a vector
for transmission of rabies may have the most significance in southern
China and parts of the Philippines.
Thousands of people per year die of rabies in China, almost
entirely in the regions where dogs are commonly eaten and raised for
meat. So-called “meat dogs” are not vaccinated, because of the
belief that vaccination would make them unfit for consumption.