THE Department of Health (DOH)-Ilocos Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) has warned residents and encouraged owners to vaccinate their pets to avoid getting rabies as cases have increased during the past weeks.
The report disclosed on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, a total of 11 rabies cases were recorded in various municipalities of the region from January 1, 2023 to May 27, 2023.
The province of Ilocos Norte has five rabies cases from the municipalities of Badoc, Batac City, Nueva Era, Paoay and Sarrat; Pangasinan with three from Alaminos City, San Quintin and Urbiztondo; two cases in La Union from Aringay and San Fernando City; and one in Sto. Domingo Ilocos Sur.
“Owners have the responsibility to have their pets immunized against rabies yearly and also to provide other booster shots to keep them healthy and safe from viruses,” Regional Director Paula Paz Sydiongco said.
“Pusa man o aso ay kailangan nating maipabakuna upang hindi tayo magka-rabies kung tayo ay aksidenteng makagat ng ating mga alagang hayop. Most animal bites happen at home and some are bitten accidentally during playtime with their pets,” she added.
A total of 17,613 equine rabies immune globulin (ERIG) vials were distributed in various provincial health offices of the region, including Dagupan CHO, Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center, and at the regional office. Also, a total of 8,592 purified chick embryo cell (PCEC) were distributed to the same health facilities accordingly.
“Maaari po kayong magpunta sa pinakamalapit na animal bite treatment center (ABTC) sa inyong lugar kung kayo ay nakagat ng aso upang makakuha ng libreng bakuna laban sa rabies,” Sydiongco said.
The regional director also stressed, “Iwasang magpagamot sa mga albularyo gamit ang ‘Tandok’ (removal of venom, rabies and tetanus from a wound by direct suction using an animal horn).”
“We have a total of 55 ABTCs strategically located across the region and we are encouraging our local government units to establish more for the benefit of our constituents, especially those residing in GIDAs,” she revealed.
Sydiongco emphasized that the regional office remains committed to ending rabies deaths in the region by 2027 and being a “Rabies Free Philippines by 2030.”
“There is still no need to panic as these are all isolated cases. We still have to validate the increased reports of cases in some of the provinces to verify if there is a need to declare a health emergency or outbreak.”
DOH Department Memorandum 2023-0103 states that it is the sole authority of the Secretary of Health to declare an outbreak supported by scientific evidence and based on disease surveillance data, epidemiologic, environmental and laboratory investigation.
Sydiongco said, “Let us be responsible pet owners and have our dogs and cats vaccinated as it is the most cost-effective measure. We need to achieve at least 70 percent dog rabies vaccination coverage in our region in order to be safe and healthy.”
“We need the support of our LGUs and stakeholders and increase health promotion activities, especially in the communities, to provide awareness and educate residents on the importance of rabies awareness,” Sydiongco concluded.