Health dept. steps up anti-rabies vaccination on dogs

By Leilani Junio

April 3, 2018, 8:19 pm

MANILA -- The Department of Health (DOH) will intensify its campaign to reduce and eventually eliminate rabies infection among people by providing anti-rabies shots to dogs.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Tuesday the strategy is in response to the reported worldwide shortage of human anti-rabies vaccine.

Duque said local government units (LGUs) have been directed to include dog anti-rabies vaccination as part of their health priority program.

“So now we are shifting the control and prevention in the dogs itself. The LGUs now are also instructed to step up the dog anti-rabies immunization and, of course, couple that with responsible pet ownership,” he said.

Local officials can also help change the mindset of dog owners, that even if there is a human rabies vaccine that can be administered to them, it would be better if dogs would be prevented from catching rabies and transferring the virus to a human, Duque added.

The health chief said the shortage will likely be felt and experienced at the local government level.

“Administration of vaccines is continuing but our supplies are going down. It is only natural that there will be a deficiency,” Duque said.

Rabies, an infectious disease passed from animals to humans, occurs when an animal’s virus-infected saliva enters the skin, via an animal bite or scratch. Usually, mammalian pets -- dogs, cats, rabbits, and rodents, such as rats, mice, bats, hamsters, monkeys and the like -- can become rabies-infected.

Based on 2016 DOH data, the number of animal bites in the country has reached more than 1.36 million.

Prior to 2016, there had already been an increasing trend in animal bite cases in the Philippines -- 330,077 in 2011; 410,811 in 2012; 522,420 in 2013; 683,302 in 2014; and 783,663 in 2015.

In 2016, a total of 209 deaths from rabies was recorded by the department. (PNA)