GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 March)– The provincial government of South Cotabato has declared an outbreak of the deadly rabies virus in a community in Sto. Nino town following the death of a local resident last week due to confirmed rabies infection.
Dr. Byron dela Cruz, officer-in-charge of the South Cotabato Provincial Veterinary Office, said Friday they have launched a massive anti-rabies vaccination among pet animals in Barangay Poblacion, Sto. Nino in a bid to prevent the possible spread of the disease to other areas.
He said the vaccination drive mainly covers the two-kilometer radius of the residence of 44 year-old Arnold Eskita, who died of rabies complications last March 4.
Eskita, who is so far the first rabies fatality in the province this year, succumbed exactly two months after being bitten by his own rabid dog, dela Cruz said.
“We’re closely monitoring the situation there since the involved dog was not submitted by the owner for laboratory but had it slaughtered instead after the incident,” he told MindaNews.
Dela Cruz said they’re not discounting the possibility that other members of the victim’s family or their neighbors had made contact with the rabid dog prior to the incident.
He said Eskita’s neighbors and friends who took part in the slaughtering and consuming the dog are also considered at risk of rabies infection.
“These are possibilities that we don’t want to happen so we immediately advised them to take the necessary treatment and vaccination,” he said.
Last year, the Integrated Provincial Health Office of South Cotabato recorded a total of four confirmed rabies deaths in the area.
The province only posted a single case and fatality due to rabies in the previous year.
The Department of Health (DOH) considers a single case of rabies infection as an outbreak due to its high fatality rate.
In the entire Region 12, the DOH’s regional epidemiology and surveillance unit (RESU) recorded a total of 19 cases and deaths due to rabies in 2013, up by one case from the previous year.
Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
The report noted that 18 of the cases involved dogs, 11 of which were domesticated.
It added that no laboratory confirmation was done for all recorded rabies cases, which were highest and reached beyond the epidemic threshold in the month of April 2013. (MindaNews)