January 29, 2024
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) is calling on the public to become responsible pet owners and have their furry friends vaccinated amid the increase in the number of cases of rabies, a fatal disease, in the country.
According to data from the DOH, a total of seven cases of rabies have been reported nationwide in the first two weeks of the month, from Jan. 1 to 13 — 46 percent down from the 13 cases reported from Dec. 17 to 31.
This was a better figure than the 63-percent increase of 13 rabies cases recorded from Dec. 17 to Dec. 31, from the mere eight cases reported from the previous two weeks.
The DOH said of the seven latest rabies cases, five were caused by dogs, while two were caused by cats. Four of these were domesticated (or homegrown pets), while the three were stray animals.
Of the seven animals that caused the rabies cases, four were unvaccinated, while only one had been vaccinated. The other remaining animals had unknown vaccination histories.
According to the DOH, the National Capital Region, Ilocos Region, Calabarzon, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen and the Bangsamoro Region showed increases in rabies cases in the recent four weeks.
The DOH noted that the case fatality rate of rabies is almost 100 percent. That is, once clinical symptoms appear to a human, rabies will lead to death.
Despite being vaccine-preventable, rabies is the cause of more than 59,000 human deaths each year. In the Philippines, at least 200 deaths annually are caused by rabies.
“Rabies kills. Pets such as cats and dogs may carry rabies and infect their owners. Stray cats and dogs may likewise do so,” the DOH said.
“Prevention is always better than cure: all cats and dogs must be vaccinated against rabies, and all animal bites must be brought to medical attention immediately,” it added.
Under the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry is mandated to lead in the control and eradication of animal and human rabies.