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Bohol authorities call for responsible pet ownership

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Feb. 13 (PIA) – The Provincial Health Office (PHO) and Office of the Provincial Veterinarian here are reminding dog owners to be responsible in ensuring their dogs are vaccinated and properly taken cared of amid as rabies cases and road accidents caused by dogs hound the province.

In recent years, Bohol has accomplished less than 50% vaccination of its dog population, which has caused a surge in human and animal rabies cases in the province recently.

Nurse Polizena Rances said during the recent Kapihan sa PIA that the government is bankrolling the purchase of anti-rabies shots.

Animal bite victims undergoing the rabies treatment regimen must go to the animal bite treatment center (ABTCs) four times to be inoculated with the vaccine to stop the rabies virus from reaching the brain.

Rances said data from the 16 ABTCs in Bohol showed that in the last three years, there were 51,171 reported dog bite incidents reaching treatment, and 15 of these cases ended up with victims dying while manifesting the symptoms.

From the animal bite incidents, local authorities have harvested 85 heads from the animals and sent to the national laboratories for rabies analysis and confirmation, of which 14 tested positive for rabies.

Dog vaccination costs less than P50, while penalties would reach between P10,000 to P25,000, on top of the dog owner shouldering the medical and other incidental expenses relative to the victim’s injuries.

The rabies virus is almost always carried by a rabid dog saliva and blood and can infect humans through animal bites or by possibly ingesting the virus from dog meat.  

According to the PHO, they have seen a suspected rabies case where a bite victim showed signs of the disease 15 years after he was bitten by a rabid dog.

While there is no approved treatment for rabies once the symptoms have manifested in the victim, health authorities assert the need for most immediate procedure to arrest the spread of the virus and kill it before it can reach the victim’s brain.

As the virus reaches the victim’s brain, he or she will experience body pains, weakness and discomfort, fever, headache progressing to cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, agitation, delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, hydrophobia and photophobia and insomnia leading to death within two to 10 days after the symptoms of rabies appears.

Meanwhile, if a place has 70% or more of their dog population vaccinated against rabies, it should keep the entire dog population safe, said Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz during the one-hour radio forum. (RAHC/PIA7 Bohol)

With 2023 just starting, Bohol has now recorded two deaths suspected to be caused by rabies. These were based on the symptoms the victims exhibited before they died. She added that confirmation can be a problem as, aside from an autopsy, the cadaver’s brain has to be sent to Manila for analysis and confirmation. (PIA Bohol)

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Rey Anthony Chiu

Regional Editor

Region 7

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