Published on: December 8, 2022

Human rabies

Human rabies

Why in news?

The State government declared human rabies a fatal viral disease that spreads through the bite of rabid animals (mainly dogs)  as a notifiable disease under the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act, 2020.


  • It is now mandatory for all government and private health facilities (including medical colleges) to report all suspected, probable, and confirmed human rabies cases to the State Health Department.
  • To address the issue of rabies in the country, a National Rabies Control Program (NRCP) has been implemented in the country since the 12th Five Year Plan.

Why it declared as notifiable disease?

  • Prevention, control, and elimination of rabies from a geographical area can only be achieved through strong surveillance and disease-reporting systems.
  • Notification will facilitate contact-tracing and prompt prophylactic measures to prevent infection in other people exposed to the same source.
  • Deaths due to rabies : 20,000 persons are in India every year, with up to 60% of cases occurring in children under 15 years of age.

Rabies in Karnataka

  • Rabies is being reported under the programme by Infectious diseases (ID) hospitals through monthly reports.
  • There are three Infectious disease hospitals in Karnataka one each in Bengaluru, Mysuru and Kolar with all in the southern part of the State.
  • According to NRCP, 6,644 clinically suspected human rabies cases and deaths have been reported from 2012 to 2020.

What is rabies ?

  • It is a viral disease that causes encephalitis in humans and other mammals.
  • Causes: Rabies virus and Australian bat lyssaviru
  • Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, fear of water, an inability to move parts of the body, confusion, and loss of consciousness
  • Virtually 100% fatal after onset of symptoms
  • Prevention: Rabies vaccine, animal control, rabies immunoglobulin
  • Saliva from an infected animal can also transmit rabies ,globally, dogs are the most common animal involved.
  • It is present in more than 150 countries and on all continents except Antarctica

The Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act, 2020: The Act has repealed the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020.

  • The Act provides the state, power to punish those attacking public servants and damaging public property.
  • As per provisions of the Act, the State Government may impose suitable restrictions to prevent the outbreak of any disease.
  • Municipal Commissioners : Exercise powers and duties as may be specified in the said Act.
  • All officers, servants and other persons shall be deemed, when acting or purporting to act in pursuance of any of the provisions of this Act, to be public servants.

Penalty provisions under the Act:-

  • Anyone obstructing public servant and causes damage to public or private property will be punished with
  1. Imprisoned not be less than three months, may extend to five years
  2. Fine, shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees, but which may extend to two lakh rupees.
  • The penalty is not paid : Can be recovered under provisions of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964. The Deputy Commissioner can even attach the property of such offender in due course.
  • Any attack on public servant and health workers shall be cognizable and non-bailable