*Double jeopardy for house wife: ‘My husband sent me packing after our son died of rabies’
By Gabriel Olawale
YOU won’t envy Patience Odukomaiya because her situation doesn’t arouse it, but you would sympathise with her. A few people are sorry for the 34-year-old mother of three: some have wept, while others remain at a loss about how to react to her plight.
First, she lost her son who was bitten by a dog that had rabies, and then she was sent packing from her matrimonial home. Patience was obviously depressed when Vanguard Features, VF, traced her to the family home on the outskirt of Lagos.
It was easy locating the brown one- story building where she resides at 52b, Okubadejo Street, Irawo in Ikorodu, but finding her own room within the maze of rooms was a bit more challenging. When VF finally came face to face with Patience, she had already packed her belongings in obedience to her husband’s orders.
Initially,she declined to comment, claiming that the death of her son was still fresh in her mind, but she was eventually persuaded to open up.
With tears streaming down her face, she narrated how she lost her five-year-old boy, Jomiloju, to untimely death from a dog bite. “I have lost everything. Why me, why has this happened to me?” she lamented. Looking lost and confused, Patience recalled that on August 8, 2016, the young boy had asked her for money to buy biscuits.
“When he asked for money to buy biscuit, initially I did not give it a thought, but when he said that if it were to be his father he asked, he would have given him the money, I was compelled to give him N20,” she recalled. She said his brother offered to accompany him to buy the biscuit in the next building inside the estate but Jomiloju declined. As it was not his first time of going to buy it himself, she let him go alone.
“He didn’t cross the road. Our house is just outside Rufus Olaniyan Estate where they normally buy things. He had already purchased the biscuits and was on his way back home when he was attacked by dogs belonging to one Mr. Rufus Olaniyan. His clothes were torn and he was bitten by one of the dogs.
“Some Good Samaritans followed him home and told me that the dog of Mr. Rufus Olaniyan had bitten him. The boy was crying and the spot of the bite was gushing blood. So I took him to New Life Hospital in Ajegunle area of Ikorodu where the wound was cleaned and he was given an injection. They told us that the treatment will last for three days and which I complied,” she narrated.
Patience said that after the treatment the boy was okay and she though it was all over. But three weeks later, the boy began to feel feverish and was running high temperature.
Until this time, she had actually forgotten about the dog bite incident and her belief was that the boy had developed malaria. “I bought an antimalarial drug for him, but when he was not responding I took him to Randle General Hospital in Surulere where it was confirmed to us that he was suffering from rabies as a result of dog bite. We were referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital Idi-Araba, where he was treated before he died,” said tearfully.
While all this was unfolding, Patience, who hails from Edo State, said that she was updating her husband who hails from Ogun State but resides in Ibadan due to his nature of work and comes to check on them every weekend.
But on September 18, 2016 when Jomiloju died, Patience was really downcast. The news also did not go down well with her husband who heaped blame on her. He was quite upset and told her to pack her belongings and leave the house.
With her little daughter on her back, Patience noted remorsefully thus: “After the death of my son, my husband and his people came to Lagos, took away my first son and left the little girl I am nursing. They have ordered me to pack my belongings and leave the house immediately.
House in disarray
“Mr. Rufus Olaniyan, the owner of the offending dog often comes around to sympathise with me over the death of my son. But what good is that going to do me now that my house is already in disarray?”
Patience said she had no option than to go back to her family. “My family is destroyed and a relationship of 10 years shattered. I want people to help me seek justice because I have nobody.”
Prowling rabid dogs: Indeed rabid dogs are prowling in Lagos. The rate of indiscriminate attacks by such dogs has reached a point of serious concern. Recent instances include the two young and promising Nigerians, Aishat Opakunle, 21 and Jame Makwa, 14, both from Mologede Estate, Meiran on Lagos Mainland, who were both bitten by the same dog in August 2014. They died shortly after showing cardinal signs of rabies.
Another documented case involving a banker in one of the leading commercial banks which occurred on Gowon Estate in Ipaja area of the state through a little scratch from supposedly friendly dog.
It will be recalled that another victim, Saturday Akpomose, a 45-year-old commercial driver, died of rabies after he was bitten by seven dogs in the Ajah area of Lagos.
On September 25, 2015, the case of four-year-old Omoniho Isaac Abraham, whose skull was torn apart by a dog that attacked him in the Igando area of Lagos was exclusively reported by Vanguard. Moyinoluwa Banwo, 9, was also left with multiple injuries from a neighbour’s dog after he was attacked in Ibafo.
Reacting to the uncontrollable cases of dog bites in the state, the Chairman, Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association, NVMA, Lagos State chapter, Dr Alao Mobolaji, said that death from rabies can be prevented with simple vaccination which costs averagely N3,000 and covers the dog for a year. “Rabies kills faster than most common diseases that we fear. It is a disease people have to be very careful with, and the major carrier of this virus is the bat while dogs are the main natural reservoir of the rabies virus. They are the main culprits being the closest to man. As soon as you see the first symptoms of rabies, even the very first – a tingling in the hands or a child becomes slightly disoriented – death is inevitable,” said Mobolaji
He regretted that across the country many of the dog-transmitted human rabies cases go untreated and unreported as a result of the absence of a rabies control programme, inadequate laboratory capacity, lack of surveillance and funding, and poor collaboration between human and animal health sectors.
“In Nigeria, the only institution equipped to carry out proper rabies diagnoses in dogs is the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom-Jos, Plateau State,” Mobolaji said, adding that in the case of Musa, the hospital exhumed the dog’s corpse for medical examination.
“The sample was sent to the National Veterinary Research Institute in Jos, Plateau State and the confirmatory result showed that the dog, indeed, had rabies,” he informed.
He said it is important to get dogs vaccinated annually to keep them protected against rabies. But when a person becomes a victim of dog bite whether or not such dog has rabies or not, the first thing to do is to wash the spot with soap and running water before presenting it for proper treatment.
“In the course of treatment, the person will be subjected to post-exposure management on days zero, three, seven, 14 and 30. If the dog does not die before day 14, the victim can skip days 14 and 30 and that means the dog does not have rabies; so they can just treat it like a normal wound,” he said.
Further, he explained that if the dog in question dies, the bitten person must take the full dose of the recommended drugs which gives such person a very good chance of survival. “But once the clinical signs of rabies start manifesting beginning with fever, there is no known cure that can prevent death,” he added.
Mobolaji, however, called on the Lagos State government to consolidate review of existing dog laws in the state and introduction of leash laws to encourage responsible dog ownership. “Proper equipping and mobilisation of the stray animal rescue unit of the state veterinary department to encourage the easy removal of all stray dogs from our environment is desired,” he noted.
Incidence of rabies
Reacting to the death of Jomiloju Odukomaya, the Director of Veterinary Service, Ministry of Agriculture, Lagos State, Dr. Macaulay Molade lamented the development.
“The incidence of rabies from dog bite in the state has continued to be an annual occurrence in the past three years and it is usually fatal. Rabies disease is dangerous, it kills and spreads like wild fire; nobody is exempted unless you are vaccinated. Once the clinical signs of rabies start in human, it is irreversible, and not treatable,” he stated.
Molade who spoke at the 2016 World Rabies Day celebration in Lagos called for prompt vaccination of dogs against rabies.