(Feature) DOH: Rabies is fatal but preventable

MANILA-- Rabies is 100 percent fatal but is also 100 percent preventable.

San Lazaro Hospital medical specialist, Dr. Ferdinand de Guzman, made the statement, noting that they have recorded 61 cases of rabies and deaths in 2015, 63 in 2016, and 12 since January this year.

The Department of Health (DOH) has logged 300,000 bites last year, made by dogs, cats, monkeys and other warm-blooded animals.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), rabies is an infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical signs. In up to 99 percent of human cases, the rabies virus is transmitted by domestic dogs. Rabies affects domestic and wild animals, and is spread to people through bites or scratches, usually via saliva, the WHO said.

De Guzman said that while children are prone to dog bites, based on records, more adults develop rabies.

This is because when children get bitten by dogs, their parents immediately bring them to treatment centers, he explained. "Older people however tend to disregard exposure (to the disease)," he said.

He further said that with the onset of the summer months, pet-owners must ensure that the heat does not irritate their dogs.

Give them a bath twice or thrice a day and provide them drinking water, de Guzman suggested. "And of course, practice responsible ownership by immunizing your dogs," he added.

In case of a dog bite, wash the wound or the affected area immediately with soap and running water to remove the dog's saliva, he said, advising against squeezing the wound as this could only make the saliva get deeper into the wound.

If the bite is in the face or head, immediately bring the victim to a doctor, he added.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth offers an animal bite treatment package that defrays the cost of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) among qualified members who seek treatment in accredited animal bite centers.

Last January, the DOH announced that it is providing a full course or eight doses of PEP in 480 Animal Bite Treatment Centers (ABTCs) nationwide as part of its campaign to eliminate rabies.

The health department has also partnered with the agriculture department's Bureau of Animal Industry, the education department and local government units to ensure that the anti-rabies awareness and responsible pet ownership campaigns reach pet-owners; promote pet vaccination; control the population of stray dogs; and inform people what to do in case they get bitten by animals. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency