The Negros Occidental Provincial Health Office (PHO) is blaming poor vaccination among animal population, particularly dogs, behind the alarming number of rabies cases.
Rafael Marmolejo III, PHO’s Provincial Nurse Coordinator, said that in 2021 they have recorded more than 21,000 animal bites in the province, while as of October of this year, they have reported more than 14,000 animal bites.
Eighty to 85 percent of the animals bites were from dogs, he said.
Marmolejo pointed out from 2020 to 2021 during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of animals being vaccinated against rabies has dropped drastically, which in turn could be the reason why the number of rabies cases spiked from 2021 up until this year.
Records also show that in 2021, the province had four confirmed rabies cases, while as of October 3, 2022 the number of rabies cases is at 20, as verified by laboratory results.
Earlier on Monday, the PHO said they recorded nine suspected and one confirmed deaths due to rabies, with the latest fatality being a six-year-old child from San Carlos City.
According to Marmolejo, the nine deaths were tagged as suspected because they showed symptoms such as hydrophobia, or fear of water.
A rabies case or death can only be tagged as confirmed if the patient’s laboratory test results were verified by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
He also noted that the nine suspected and one confirmed rabies deaths were all bitten by dogs.
According to Marmolejo, the proper treatment for an animal bite is to wash the wound using running water and soap for 10 to 15 minutes.
After washing the wound, apply betadine and immediately go to the nearest animal bite center or health center to receive the rabies vaccine.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the first symptoms of rabies may be similar to the flu, including weakness or discomfort, fever, or headache. There also may be discomfort, prickling, or an itching sensation at the site of the bite. These symptoms may last for days.
Symptoms then progress to cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, and agitation. As the disease progresses, the person may experience delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water), and insomnia. The acute period of disease typically ends after 2 to 10 days.
Rabies is also noted to be 100 percent fatal, and there are less than 20 cases worldwide that have been documented to have survived the virus.* (DGB)