The Vietnamese government's campaign to eradicate rabies by 2015 is clashing with a fringe agricultural demographic: dog farmers.
As if running a dog farm wasn't difficult enough.
As I found out in 2009, when researching the series "Dog Meat Mafia," there are reasons most cultures don't farm dogs that run deeper than moral hangups.
Unlike cows, dogs don't just gently plod around and munch grass. Corralled into close quarters, they fight. They swap skin diseases. They reek.
To all that, add a new worry for Vietnam's dog farmers: notifying the government every time a dog is bought, sold or killed. To track and stamp out rabies, Vietnam's government wants a full headcount of every canine occupying homes and farms, the Thanh Nien newspaper reports. Farmers are telling the outlet that this new rule amounts to a bureaucratic nightmare.
Vietnam copes with recurring spikes in rabies cases. The state-run Vietnam News counts a whopping 240 deaths in northern provinces since 2010 and contends that "increased public awarness" is vital in stemming the disease's spread.
Part of the problem is that, while dog-borne rabies spreads to humans in most societies through bites, it also spreads in Vietnam through consumption. Eating an unvaccinated dog -- even after cooking -- appears to pose a rabies transmission risk,according to a study backed by the South East Asia Infectious Disease Clinical Research Network.
A hospital case study offered by the report is worth quoting at length: