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The Sunday TimesPlus

16th March 1997



Beware of rabies

By Chamintha Tilakaratna

Rabies is one of the oldest surviving viruses known to man and one of the deadliest. In Sri Lanka, the difficulty in controlling the disease is mostly because of the large numbers of stray dogs. Many of us are in the habit of petting strays and taking them home, paying little attention as to what illnesses they might be carrying.

Although the number of rabies victims who report to the hospital is on the decrease , the seriousness of the disease cannot be dismissed. The reason why the number of rabies victims reporting to hospitals has decreased is not because the number of patients itself has declined but because many do not take the proper treatment in time. Instead they tend to seek the help of the native doctors and other alternative sources.

Dr. Sunil Chandra explained that the rabies virus survives in moist conditions and can be inactivated by drying, by allowing the sun's ultra violet rays to reach the moist area or even by heating. The rabies virus can enter the body through open skin and even through the mouth and eyes. The exposure of body parts with rich nerve supplies such as the face and extremities of hands, limbs are paths through which the virus enters.

After entering the body,the virus enters into the nervous system through the peripheral nerves and multiplies in the brain, and not in the blood stream. The virus has the strategy to evade the immune system and therefore it passes through the nervous system to the brain where the virus has the affinity to new paths. The virus travels through the salivary glands and into the saliva in the mouth through which it can be passed onto another. This is why rabies patients should not be allowed to come in contact with any other person for if their saliva enters the body of another they too will be victims of the disease.

How to identify a rabid animal.

One of the earliest features of rabid animals is biting of skin and scratching of the wound from which the virus has entered the body, even though the wound may have been healed. According to Dr. Sunil Chandra, a visible behaviour change can be observed later. A quiet animal would act ferocious in the case of ferocious rabies, and a ferocious animal would act dull and quiet if it is silent rabies. During this time the animal will begin to act more friendly as well. In the case of cats, they will always show characteristics of ferocious rabies. The rabies virus may be present in the animal five days before it shows symptoms.

Later on, the tongue and the jaws of the dog may seem to be paralyzed, and the animal will prefer to stay in a dark corner . According to Dr. Sunil Chandra , during this time the animal is also likely to become unusually friendly. Excessive salivation and biting of any object will also be visible. In silent rabies, he said that the animal does not become furious as many of us expect it to be. So, whatever change that occurs in their behaviour pattern must be taken note of.

If the dog dies in a period of ten days which is usually the life period given to rabid animals, again the head of the animal should be immediately sent to the Medical Research Institute (MRI ), packed and sealed in ice for if the animal dies within ten days of biting another, then the animal is very likely to have had rabies. In this case all those who are known to have been involved with the animal should be vaccinated. "Delay in sending the animal's head would be of no use in examinations for examination would be imposs-ible," said Dr.Sunil Chandra. If it is a stray dog the municipal authorities should be informed. A widely held misconception is that the animal has a fear of water. This can be observed in humans, but animals rarely show this characteristic.

If someone is said to have been bitten by a rabid animal, then the first aid should be to wash the wound as soon as possible with soap and water for five minutes. If soap is not available at the time of the incident the wound should at least be washed with water alone, so that the virus will not enter the tissues. But never wash the wound with soap and Savlon Dr. Chandra said. This is because soap and Savlon together neutralize the effect that they are meant to perform. Then the patient should be rushed to hospital for treatment.

The Incubation Period of a rabid animal

Although according to available literature, the incubation period of the virus may last from three or four days to nineteen years the average (60% of rabies victims) period is 20-90 days.The closer the bite is to the brain, the shorter the incubation period. So, treatment should be taken as soon as possible.

What to be aware of in relation to rabies

If one sees a wild animal in civilization, that is a signal to be careful of . This is because when wild animals get rabies they often come in search of civilization because they lose their fear of humans.

"An animal should be vaccinated for rabies at the age of four months and thereafter the vaccine should be given annually. But, there are instances when the animal will not be completely immune. Be very careful in taking stray dogs into houses for pups could be infected from birth through their mothers. Therefore abandoned pups should be left alone,"Dr.Sunil Chandra stressed.

"Rabies is endemic in all provinces of Sri Lanka , especially in the Central, North Central, Western provinces," Dr. Sunil Chandra added.

Dr. Sunil Chandra emphasized that majority of deaths caused due to rabies can be prevented by post exposure or pro- phylaxis treatments if patients arrive for treatment on time.

Jazz guitarist Martin Taylor in Colombo again

By Arun Dias Bandaranaiake

Clap hands here comes Martin (Again)! Hot on the heels of his tour with "Glorious Guitars" in Australia, and his attendance at some of the key Jazz Festivals Down Under, as well as completing successful dates in New York and elsewhere in the United States, the British Council has been able to arrange for guitarist Martin Taylor to perform in Sri Lanka yet again.

This is an amazing prospect considering the stature of this musician, and the esteem with which he is held in the fraternity of musicians. This sort of privilege is about as rare as "hens' teeth" (terminology reserved for seldom heard or seen recorded- masterpieces that have appeared on the shelves at Ray's Jazz Shop on Shaftesbury Avenue in London) !!

We, perforce, must come to terms with the fact that the mastery of the instrument and of the idiom displayed by Martin Taylor is sufficient to elevate him to the realm of the legendary. His disarming manner and modesty may prevent one from reckoning to him such an honour, but it is true, that had he a contract with a major American label, there would be much more of an international presence that might have accrued to this artiste. As it is, there is a tendency for him to be a kind of "best kept secret" among an informed coterie (albeit there being an international spread to this particular).

Artistically, many writers have commented on Taylor's affinity to Belgian Django Reinhardt and Jim Hall or even the late Laurindo Almeida. While all of that bears some veracity, Taylor has actually transcended the approach that has been set in place by these masters of the past. It is worth explaining that such influences honed their styles on the possibilities that existed with the Spanish or modern electric guitars, incorporating Flamenco techniques, chord delineation in the manner of Charlie Christian and such devices as are common among hundreds of modern guitarists. Taylor, while having covered the rudiments under his primary influence, the underrated Ike Isaacs ( was based in Britain, and passed away a few years ago), has extended his thinking process away from the guitar to include the Piano. That certainly seems a paradox, for many are the composers and musicians who have attempted to adapt music for the Piano and translate (italics) them for guitar; but in Taylor's case he hears the guitar as an extension( italics) of the piano!

Martin Taylor's previous visit to Sri Lanka, was in the wake of his very successful (artistically and critically) album "The Spirit of Django" and the performance was essentially a recreation of the material from that recording. Though not limiting himself, it was nonetheless a celebration of another artistic style that had gone before. It is likely that this visit will allow the audience to hear and see the innovative aspect of his art.

Bill Harris, another guitarist from the Washington area who we do not hear much of, tried some of the same techniques a generation ago. Where Harris was limited was in the aspect of his ability to sustain a polyphonic improvisation. i.e. a sufficient technical skill that allowed more than just one melodic line at a given moment, but also supplying an accompanying rhythmic or harmonic support with the remainder of the fingers of the right hand. Amazingly, Martin Taylor has crossed that barrier, and with startling effect. The concerts will certainly be a precious opportunity of musicians in general and guitarists in particular to savour. Yes, and improvisation is also a vitality that must be studied, for Taylor's improvised choruses, in themselves, would yield much for the examiner of musical form and melodic invention.

What is less well known is that Buck Taylor, Martin's late father, was serving his King during the period of the War in Trincomalee and Diyatalawa. Perhaps that is a factor too, in the guitarist's abiding love for this land, and his yearning to return, this time in the company of his young son, the Drummer and percussionist, James Taylor !

Martin Taylor trio will perform at the British Council on March 21 and 24.

Ireland - Lanka relations take a new turn

There is a long history of ties between Ireland and Sri Lanka. ln recent months the relations between the two emerald islands have been developing and it is now the intention to establish a Sri Lanka Ireland Friendship Society here in Colombo.

The aims of the Society will be to strengthen and further promote the historical, cultural and social contact between the people of Sri Lanka and the people of Ireland.

The Society will hope to provide for its members programmes that will bring together people for mutual exchange of ideas regarding the historical and cultural heritage.

It is also hoped that the Society will engender goodwill, friendship and understanding between the people of the two countries and help further promote economic, educational and social ties.

New office bearers

At the Annual General Meeting of Bloomfield Cricket & Athletic Club, held on February 27, 1997, the following office bearers and Committee members were elected:

President :- Shelley Wickramasinghe (Elected for the 23rd year) Vice Presidents:- Danny Liyanasuriya, Terrence Perera, T. Ganarajah, D. P. Wickramaarachchi and Mahinda Wijesinghe. Hony. General Secretary :- Sumedha Pandithage (Elected for the 5th year), Asst. Secretary:- Stanley Kuruppu, Hony.Treasurer:- Thilak Hewakapuge, Asst. Treasurer :- Gamini Happawana, Cricket Secretary - D.P.Wickramaarachchi, Asst. Secretary:- S.Illangaratnam, Hony. Bar Secretary:-Averne Jayawardena, Pavilion Secretary:- Lalith Kaluperuma,Ground Secretary:- Bandula Warnapura,

Asst: Secretary :- Jayantha Seneviratne, Social Secretary :- Tissa Madigasekera, Asst. Secretary :-Ranjit Fernando. Committee:- D.Wanasundera, Shiran Wickramasinghe, Sunil Fernando, Nihal Amaradasa and Rohith Nagarajah.

Chartered Secretaries' pass list

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators released the pass list for December 1996 Examination conducted at the Sri Lanka Centre last week. The list is as follows:

Completed All Examinations and Graduated: Camille Dilhara Balthazar, Fathima Zulfica Cassim, Dalrene Dharmarajah, Maheshi S. Godakumbura, Anhony B. Nair, Raja Udugampola. Completed professionl stage II Programme: Camille Dilhara Balthazar, Fathima Zulfica Cassim, Dalrene Dharmarajah, Maheshi S. Godakumbura.

Completed Professionl Stage I Programme: Fathima Zulfica Cassim, Maheshi S.Godakumbura, Anthony B. Nair.

Completed Pre-Professionl Programme: Fathima Cania Cader, Lakmali Shivanthi de Silva, Enoka Edirisinghe, Sahayanie Fernando, Andrea Johnpulle, Malkanthi R.Samarasinghe, Namal K. H. Seneviratne, Suhanya Suntheralingam, Daphne Tennekoon, Thanuja Thananyagam, Raja Udugampola, Mihiri Wellage.

Completed Foundation Programme: Himali Alwis Weerakkody, R. Jerome de Mel, Shamindrani P. Goonetilleke, Vajira R. Jayasekera, Mehra N. Lafir, Tavisha Nanayakkara, Neloufer Rambukwelle, Thanuja Thananayagam.

New committee members -Southern Motor Sports Club

The Southern Motor Sports Club was formed recently in Matara. The club hopes to conduct rallies, hill climbs and circuit race meets in the Southern Province.

The following are the office-bearers and committee members of the club:Office-bearers: Suranjith Premadasa, President, R.L.V. de Silva Vice President, Mohan W. Surendra Vice President, Dudley Hettiarachchi Vice President, N.P.G. Preethi Palliyaguru, General Secretary, W.G. Andrew de Silva, Asst. Secretary, Ashhar Hameem, Treasurer, M.H. Harsha Priyadarshana, Asst. Treasurer, Committee: A.B. Nimal de Silva, Andrew Gamage, Shihan Shams-udeen, Rohan Gamage, Dr. Oscar Amarasinghe, Upul Kodituwakku, Atula W. Surendra, Priyantha Pathi-rana, Aruna Siriwardena.

PASL elects new office bearers

Professor S. Tilakaratne,Chairman of the University Grants Commission was unanimously elected President of the Population Association of Sri Lanka which was formally inaugurated on Saturday 8th February at a largely attended meeting of professionals at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute.

The following are the members of the first council of the Association.

New members are welcome. Those interested are requested to contact

Secretary, Dr. K.A.P. Siddhisena on phone 586111 or by fax 583810 or 587239 or by Email (KAPS@ DSCS. CMB. AC. LK.) President: Prof. S. Tilakaratne Chairman/UGC. Vice Presidents: Dr. A.T.P.L. Abeykoon Director/ Population Divison Min. of Health, Highways & Social Services and Prof. P.Wilson Vice Chancellor University of Sri Jayewardenepura.Secretary : Dr. K.A.P. Siddhisena Director/DTRU University of Colombo,

Asst. Secretary : Dr. Vinya S. Ariyaratne, Lecturer in Community Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura,

Treasurer : Prof. N.K. Dangalla Dept. of Geography University of Kelaniya, Editor: Prof.(Mrs.) Kanthi Ratnayake, Dept of Geography, University of Rununa.

Other Council Members : Bradman Weerakoon, Consultant UN, UNFPA Office, V.K. Nanayakkara, Consultant/Institutionl Management, Ministry of Environment, Prof.(Mrs.) Chandra Attanayake, Dept. of Geography, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, H.R. Gunasekara Deputy Director Dept. of Census & Statistics and W.E. Botheju Director/FPASL.

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