PH aims to be rabies-free by 2016 | Inquirer Business

PH aims to be rabies-free by 2016

It’s understandable why local government leaders are fearful about the rise of rabies cases in their communities. If one gets rabies, that person’s chance for survival is close to zero. More alarmingly, the most common victims of rabies are children who are bitten or scratched by their or their neighbors’ pet dogs (or sometimes cats).

This is why the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has set a goal of making the Philippines rabies-free by 2016. To realize this, the agency targeted to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the estimated 10 million dogs in the country.

As of last year, there are already 15 rabies-free zones in the country: the island province of Siquijor; Batanes; Apo island, Dauin, in Negros Oriental; Malapascua island in Cebu; Camotes island in Cebu; Guimaras; Olympia island and Bais City in Negros Oriental; Culion, Coron and Busuanga in Palawan; Boracay island and the municipality of Malay in Aklan.


“The good news is, at least 10 more areas will be declared free of rabies by the end of the year,” said Dr. Raffy Deray, program manager of the Department of Health’s National Rabies Prevention and Control Program.


More achievable

Deray explained that dog vaccination is a more achievable means of addressing deaths caused by rabies infection. For the past years, a number of local government units have conducted free mass antirabies vaccination of pets.

For example, through the BAI with support from the DOH and foreign assistance from the World Organization for Animal Health and the Australian government, a project was launched in the Bicol region to vaccinate 300,000 dogs annually and to contribute to national rabies eradication efforts.

On March 5, the City Veterinary Office of Makati has provided a monthlong free vaccination and castration of dogs and cats to address the spread of rabies as well as the unchecked increase of free-roaming dog and cat population.

Even pet owners who would opt to have their pets vaccinated in private veterinary hospitals will only have to pay about P400 per shot, which is a lot lower than if a person would avail himself/herself of antirabies treatment (the most affordable would be about P4,000) after being bitten by a dog.

Moreover, the DA has already ordered a moratorium on charging of the laboratory fee (P200) for rabies examination in government facilities such as the Philippine Animal Health Center of the BAI and the regional animal disease diagnostic laboratories of the DA regional field offices beginning February this year until Dec. 31, 2016.


The free laboratory fee was meant to encourage not only the submission of more samples from suspected animal rabies cases but only more pet owners, especially in the rural areas, to have their dogs tested for rabies.

“The number of deaths due to rabies has slowly dropped in the last four years to 187 last year from 231 in 2012 and 257 in 2010. (Interestingly, the incidence of human rabies has also declined by 27 percent from 2010 to 2013) so we must continue to increase public awareness on the risks of rabies and the importance of having dogs and cats vaccinated regularly against this fatal disease,” said Deray.

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He also added that getting rabies shots—even before you ever get bitten—is another form of investment on your health. This is more beneficial to those people at risk of rabies like pet owners, veterinarians, animal handlers and pet store owners who should avail themselves of preexposure vaccination.

TAGS: health and wellness, Philippines, rabies

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