BOAC, Marinduque – The Sangguniang Bayan (town council) here on Thursday placed the town under a state of calamity due to the alarming number of rabid dogs roaming the municipality.
In an interview on Friday, Luna Eulogio Manrique, head of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), said his personnel, along with policemen and barangay tanods or village watchmen, have been dispatched to catch or neutralize infected animals, some of which are loose in the town’s streets.
He disclosed that the authorities were first alerted to the apparent surge in rabies cases when a 16-year-old boy became rabid and died late last month, not long after being bitten by a dog.
Since then, municipal veterinarians have confirmed several cases of rabies in dogs, and one case of rabies in a hog that was previously attacked by a dog, Manrique added.
The MDRRMO chief said lawmen are currently hunting down rabid dogs across town, but they have been authorized to only use .22 caliber rifles when euthanizing the sick animals to avoid alarming the neighborhood, especially since an election gun ban is currently in effect.
Manrique revealed that a recent census showed that there are about 11,000 dogs living within Boac’s boundaries.
He said the municipal government is trying to contain the spread of rabies among dogs by launching a massive vaccination effort that targets to inoculate between 80 to 90 percent of the town’s dog population within the next 60 days.
To reach this goal, the municipal government has hired on a provisional basis 30 “vaccinators” who are tasked with implementing the massive animal vaccination effort.
Manrique said the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) sounded the alarm after it was discovered that there existed rabies cases in two barangays located five kilometers apart, which suggested the disease had become widespread in Boac.
There have been some 200 reported animal bite cases in Boac within the past several weeks, he said.
In response, the Department of Health’s (DOH) Marinduque office has sent to Boac some 1,000 vials of anti-rabies vaccines for human bite victims.
This is in addition to the vaccines already at the disposal of the town’s health authorities, he added.
Manrique said the municipal government is also set to purchase additional anti-rabies vaccines to ensure that the town has more than sufficient supply to address any foreseeable scenario.
He said all pet owners have been directed by town authorities to put their healthy dogs in cages or on leashes to avoid them coming into contact with sick animals.
Manrique lamented that many of the dogs in town are simply allowed by their owners to roam free.
At least four stray dogs suspected of being rabid have been stoned to death by villagers since the news about the outbreak of rabies spread, he said. (PNA)