The Negros Occidental Provincial Health Office (PHO) this morning reported nine suspected, and one confirmed, rabies fatalities in the province as of today, October 3.
Nurse Rafael Marmolejo, PHO’s Provincial Nurse Coordinator, said the latest suspected rabies fatality was a six-year-old child from San Carlos City.
According to Marmolejo, the nine cases were tagged as suspected because they showed symptoms such as hydrophobia or fear of water.
Marmolejo pointed out that a case can only be tagged as confirmed if the patient’s laboratory result was verified by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
He said most of the fatalities failed to seek immediate treatment and their local animal bites center.
He recalled one case wherein the male patient, a resident of Manapla town, knew of being bitten by a dog, but instead of going to the local health center, he opted to be treated by means of “tandok” or traditional medicine.
When the he finally went to the local health center after the symptoms worsened, Marmolejo said it was already too late, and the patient passed away a few days later.
Seven of the other fatalities were also noted to have used “tandok” to treat their animal bite.
He also noted that the nine suspected and one confirmed rabies cases were all bitten by dogs.
According to Marmolejo, proper treatment of animal bite is to wash the wound using running water and soap for 10 to 15 minutes.
After washing the wound Marmolejo advised to apply betadine to the wound, and immediately go to the nearest animal bites center or health center to receive the rabies vaccine.
“Do not use cream or anything [else], indi pag pisgaon ang pilas, kag indi pag butangan ahos,” Marmolejo said.
He further noted that the fatalities were mostly from upland areas of the province, although he couldn’t say that the patients were ignorant, pointing out the example of the Manapla case.
“Indi man ta ka hambal sina [ignorance], parehos sa aton nga Manapla case nga kabalo gid sya nga nakagtan sya, gin hambalan siya sang wife nya nga magkadto sa animal bites center, but still the patient refused,” Marmolejo explained.
At present Negros Occidental has a total of 21 Animal Bite Treatment Centers, of which 16 were certified, while five are still on process.
Marmolejo also noted that they currently do not have any problems with rabies vaccines, as they constantly receive supplies from the Department of Health (DOH), the provincial government, and the local government units.* (DGB)