Rabies alarms health officials, communities

By Rey Anthony Chiu | 07:48 PM February 26, 2023

The rising rabies cases in humans, alarm health authorities who believe drastic measures should be put in place immediately to keep the fatal canine viral disease at bay.

By drastic measures, it means a revisit and community ownership of the Bohol Rabies Prevention and Eradication Program, a rigid information and education campaign on responsible pet ownership and government subsidies on the purchase of anti-rabies vaccines for both humans and animals.

This as Bohol reports 12 suspected deaths due to rabies and 16.5% of biting dog head samples sent for rabies confirmation resulted in them being positive.

According to animal rabies monitoring head and Provincial veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz, 14 dog head samples of involved in the 85 biting incidents tested positive for rabies.

In fact, Provincial Health Office through nurse and provincial health and lifestyle coordinator Leonidas Saniel reports that animal bites make up the second in the rates of disease among the 2020 population while third in 2021 morbidity rate.

According to PHO Rabies in Humans coordinator nurse Polizena Rances, their monitoring records some 17,331 recorded animal bites in 2020, and about 90% of these are dog bites.

By 2021, they recorded 17,415 cases of animal bites.

And in 2022, up to the third quarter, PHOP gathered 16,425 animal bite cases, these are as far as the victims go to the 16 animal bite treatment centers (ABTC) spread all over Bohol.

The problem is even made more complicated by that fact that out of poor information, bite victims would rather go to quack doctors than seek immediate medical treatment at the registered animal bite centers.

Moreover, ABTCs also report that a good percentage of bite victims fail to continue the treatment after the initial doses.

Disease is a viral dog disease than can be passed on a human through the animal’s virus-laden saliva or blood that can get into a human body through open wounds like bites and scratches.

“After infection, the virus travels from the bite area to the brain, and in this period, the victim must be given the proper treatment to stop the virus from getting to the brain, when the disease becomes almost always fatal,” says Rances.

After the biting incident, the victim has to immediately wash the wound with soap and water and head directly to the ABTC where he can get the proper assessment and get instructions on the management of the wound and his first anti-rabies injection.

The national rabies low mandates the biting animal owners to immediately submit the biting animal for observation within 24 hours, and spend for whatever costs the biting victim incurs in the line of treatment and accessing it.

If within the next few days, the biting animal shows the symptoms of rabies in animals, the suspected animal’s head would be harvested for confirmatory analysis in Manila.

Depending on the gravity of the bite and its location, the patient may need succeeding booster doses of the anti-rabies injections: after day 3, after day 7 and after day 24.

In the past, an ordinance in Bohol mandates that dog owners, along with the national, provincial and municipal governments contribute for the bite injections, to make sure that a patient gets the proper treatment.

On the other hand, authorities at the Provincial veterinarians Office call on dog owners to be responsible in making sure their dogs are registered, vaccinated and kept under their effective control.

The national law and the provincial ordinance on rabies states that any dog which is not in effective control of the owner, when caught as stray, penalizes the owners.

The vet authorities also said that if owners are incapable of having many pets, they have spaying and neutering operations to render these animals infertile, so that dog population could also be controlled. (PIA-7/Bohol)

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