• Last Update 2023-06-07 20:59:00

SL risks rapid spread of Rabies as anti-rabies vaccines for dogs run out


Sri Lanka is most likely to face impending rabies spread as a result of the financial inability to import supply. It is also in the hands of the local government of the country as they are part of Rabies prevention and control.

Twenty seven deaths were reported people died last year from rabies and out of that 17 contracted the disease from dog bites, Dr. L. D. Kithsiri stated. 5 deaths were reported each from Jaffna, Gampaha and Kalutara districts making it the highest number and the rest were disclosed across the country.

He further said, there are no vaccines in storage units in Kandy, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Colombo and Gampaha districts.

Ninety five percent of infections come up because of dog bites. The main reason for deaths in Sri Lanka is non-vaccination of dogs against rabies. There are approximately 7 million dogs across the county and only around 1.5 million dogs are vaccinated annually and not getting any post-exposure treatments. If treated timely after rabies infected animal bite, it is 100% preventable and serums are freely accessible at any government hospital.   

The Public Health Services declared that vaccination drives until February will be carried out using the remaining vaccines in other regional storage units adding the fact that there will be a lack of such programs after February if the shortage continues.

In the year 2022, the PHS vaccinated a million of dogs that were vaccinated against rabies and sterilized 40,000 female dogs, added Dr. L. D. Kithsiri. On the other hand, there is no shortage of vaccines given to humans who are hospitalized but it has a high tendency to turn around if rabies spreads rapidly among the dog population. Nearly one million of those who have contracted the disease were vaccinated Western province has reported the highest number of dog bites up to this date.

Towards the elimination, the country needs more effective, evidence-based strategies and efforts to achieve its ultimate goal. Sri Lanka has achieved a successful reduction of human rabies deaths from 377 in the mid 1970s to 2021 as a result of its successful vaccination drive.


Vaccination of doggos in progress.

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