Rabies posing threat to tourism

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RABIES which is present in countries close to Papua New Guinea can pose a threat to the tourism industry here if it enters the country, according to the National Agricultural Quarantine and Inspection Authority (Naqia).
Naqia consultant Dr Richard Rubira revealed this at the Rabies Emergency Responses Planning Workshop in Port Moresby.
He said that the infectious animal disease was in countries close to Papua New Guinea.
The workshop was conducted by Naqia and Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
“When rabies comes into a country, people normally become afraid of having any contact with dogs. They see them as a risk,” Rubira said.
“There is a risk that tourists will not come to the country. They will be frightened (of contacting it) and stay away. There are problems with movements of animals especially dogs. There is also large costs in the treatment and vaccination programme.”
He said the workshop was to assist the most agencies in Papua New Guinea in case rabies entered the country.
“Currently, it is not believed to be in the country but it is present in many of the countries surrounding Papua New Guinea,” he said.
“Rabies is a virus and the strain is what is called dog mediated rabies, meaning that it is spread mainly by dogs.
“Naqia is responsible for the diseases in animals and the Department of Health is responsible for the diseases in humans.”
He said the sad thing with the disease was that once people showed clinical signs of rabies, “there is no treatment that works unlike other diseases where there are antibiotics”.
“With rabies, one has to start treatment before the clinical signs show.”

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