Several people in Thenmala in Kerala’s Kollam district, including 25 forest officials, had to be vaccinated after a jackal that had been attacking local residents over the past few days was found to have rabies.
Last week, local residents had spotted a jackal in the village of Thenmala, and few of them were even attacked by the animal. Though initially, the forest officials couldn't trap it, later, they caught the jackal using a net.
They kept the animal in observation as it was found to be weak. Two days later, it died and the test results after death revealed that the animal had rabies. The samples of the dead animal were tested at the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals in Palode, Thiruvananthapuram.
Including me, 25 forest officials have taken anti-rabies vaccinations. Other than officials those who were bitten by the animal were also asked to get vaccinated,” Thenmala Forest Range officer told TNM. Many of the forest officials took the vaccination as a precaution, though they were not attacked by the animal.
"Usually, jackals don't come out of the forest alone. They travel in packs. Maybe this animal came out as it had some health problems, or it was weak due to age. Such incidents are rare," the officer said.
Usually, when animals come out of the forest, officials catch them and send them back into the forest. But this time since the animal was weak, it was kept in observation and this has now saved many lives.
"We keep the weak animals for a while and provide them with treatment. So we kept this jackal and it died soon. In such cases, vaccinations should be taken as a precaution for animal bites or scratches, if it is a wild animal, we may not know whether it was infected," he added.
After the initial attacks by the jackal, a few residents had protested against the forest department for not taking any action to prevent man-animal conflict in the region. After it was revealed that the animal was diseased, people were gripped by fear. However, the forest department officials have informed them that there is nothing to worry about.
"Once vaccinations are taken, then nothing to worry," the official added.