The Department of Health (DOH XI) in the region again urged pet owners to be more responsible in handling domesticated pets in observation of the Rabies Awareness Month this March.
Dr. Vergel Jay Bautista, DOH XI medical coordinator for rabies prevention and control program, told reporters Monday that rabies is 100% deadly but highly preventable.
“There are many ways to prevent this. One way is responsible (pet) ownership as owners of dogs and cats. We should take care of them not only by having them vaccinated but putting them on a leash while walking them on public places so as to lessen the possibility of biting strangers,” Bautista said.
Bautista added that in case there will be cases of being bitten by a dog or cat, it must be an immediate action for the individual to seek medical attention to the nearest bite treatment centers.
There are 32 animal bite centers and treatment centers in the entire region.
As of 2019, Bautista revealed that there were 24 confirmed cases of rabies in the Davao Region.
“All of the 24 (patients) died. That is the data of our fatalities in 2019,” he added, noting that most came from Davao City leading the highest number of rabies cases in the region last year.
Next to Davao City is the province of Davao de Oro with four recorded cases; Davao Oriental with four; three cases in Davao del Norte; and two in Davao del Sur.
Bautista also said that there are two reported cases this year, but they have yet to be confirmed.
“As the symptoms of rabies is also a wastebasket diagnosis, which means that, whatever it is that wasn’t recorded (or included) in the other diagnosis, it can be diagnosed as rabies,” he said.
Meanwhile, as for the number of the vaccines available for Davao region, Bautista said they are still waiting for the supply to be given by the central office.
“All of our vaccines are provided by the central office,” he said.
The number of the vaccines, he said, is also being allocated based on the number of recorded cases reported to the central office.
“Apparently, it is true indeed that since 2017 there had been challenges in the allocation of the vaccine. Currently, we are still waiting for the delivery,” he added.
However, Bautista said, with the budget that is given to the rabies program, the DOH XI is also making augmentation where they “locally procure rabies vaccines to ensure that all cases will be covered.”
“Despite this, we really have many bite cases,” he stressed, noting that the Department is “really advocating for the responsible pet ownership.”
He said that the vaccine is not a 100% guarantee that the rabies virus is no longer present in the dog and cat. However, it will drastically lower the possibility of the pets becoming carriers.
Meanwhile, Mark Kenneth Dino, from the Department of Agriculture XI, said they are also trying their best to provide stocks for the rabies vaccines on animals.
“With regard to the supply on the part of the DA, actually it is not that much, which is why we are asking the help of the local government units to also procure their own rabies vaccines,” he said.