Dog vaccination best defense against rabies

By Imelda C Rivero
Vigan City – Vaccination of dogs from three months onwards is still the best defense against the killer rabies, a non-profit organization behind a campaign to eliminate rabies said.
The Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) is also behind an on-going training on Communicating Health Advocacy Mentorship Program (CHAMP) at the Development Academy of the Philippines, Tagaytay City from January 22 to March 13.
“By 2020 the Philippines is envisioned to be rabies-free,” Dr Emelinda Lopez, rabies focal person of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said.
The national government, however, wants to move up the deadline by making the country rabies-free by 2016.
To achieve this, the government has embarked on a massive rabies vaccination from 2014 to 2016 in high-risk areas to include 70 percent of the total dog population.
In this World Heritage City for example, 1,321 dogs in 39 barangays have been immunized against rabies last year, the city agriculture office said.
The last reported rabies case in the city was more than five years ago where the victim died. This pushed the city government to search and immunize every dog in the affected barangay and neighboring communities.
Lopez, citing a World Health Organization report, said one dies of rabies every ten minutes while about 70,000 people worldwide are killed yearly.
And among the cases, children in developing countries like Asia and Africa are the worst affected. More than 95 percent of human cases of rabies are bitten by infected dogs.
Lopez said rabies is 100 percent fatal, but 100 percent preventable by the annual vaccination of dogs from three months on.
To help residents against rabies, Lopez said that they must learn that this is a killer disease caused by a virus, not a bacteria, transferred through the saliva of infected animals.
Once it enters the body it affects the central nervous system. Signs of the disease can be seen in cats and dogs from two weeks to six months after bitten by infected animal. Infection can occur through the bitten part of the body, the bite wounds. Or the infected saliva of the animal can enter an open wound or the mouth, nose or eyes.
Lopez hopes that through the health advocacy program, communicators that include information officers and media personnel of private and government agencies in the country, will help bring the message of annual dog vaccination. (MCA/ICR/PIA1-Ilocos Sur)

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