Canine calamity

Published: Monday 31 March 1997

REELING under economic hardships, people of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Are afflicted these days with a new problem - an army of 10,000 stray dogs infected with rabies. The authorities have declared a state of emergency in view of the threat posed to the citizens by the increasing number of stray dogs and rabies cases.

"On an average, 300 people a day are seeking medical help after being bitten," said Zubar Putkaradzeshief, a leading doctor in the city. "While not a single fatal case of rabies had been registered in Georgia in the last 12 years, 18 people have died of rabies in Tbilisi alone in the last six months," he said.

Authorities have blamed the epidemic on the economic situation of the country. Families are throwing out their pets as they are unable to feed them or give them to animal shelters, which had closed down long ago. A poor garbage disposal system has also aggravated the problem.

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