Rabies outbreak feared; three villages in South Cotabato quarantined

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 August) – Health personnel in South Cotabato have quarantined at least three villages in the province following what appeared to be an outbreak of the deadly rabies virus, which already claimed two lives during the last two months.

South Cotabato Gov.  Arthur Pingoy said Thursday the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) has launched a massive anti-rabies vaccination and treatment among residents of Barangays Laconon in T’boli, Upper Sepaka in Surallah and Sajaneba in Sto. Nino town to
prevent possible infection and further spread of the virus.

Citing an IPHO report, he said two rabies deaths were initially confirmed last June in Barangays Laconon and Upper Sepaka.

But he said they received reports that a number of local residents in two villages had slaughtered and consumed a rabid dog in Barangay Laconon and a horse that was bitten by a rabid dog in Barangay Upper Sepaka.

“This is very alarming because based on our latest count, at least 42 people have already been verified to have eaten the meat of the suspected rabies-infected animals,” Pingoy said in a media forum.

The governor said the IPHO already gave the initial anti-rabies doses, which cost around P3,000 each, to the affected residents.

He said the Department of Health-Region 12 provided additional vaccines to complete the required anti-rabies doses of the patients.

Dr. Lorna Lamorena, Provincial Veterinary Office chief, said a four-year old boy died in early June after being bitten by a rabid dog in Barangay Laconon in T’boli.

She said the victim’s family, who hails from Barangay Lake Seloton in Lake Sebu, was just visiting Barangay Laconon when the incident happened.

In Barangay Upper Sepaka in Surallah, she said a resident identified as Albino Linghon, 34, died of rabies last June, two months after he was bitten by a rabid dog.

Lamorena said several residents were also reported to have eaten the meat of a horse in the area that was bitten by the dog that infected Linghon.

She said the rabid dog that had bitten the horse was reported to have also bitten and infected five children from the village.

In Barangay Sajaneba in Sto. Nino, Lamorena said a dog’s head that was earlier submitted to them for laboratory test turned out positive last week of rabies infection.

She said a child from the village, who was earlier bitten by the same animal, is currently being treated at a local hospital.

Last year, the IPHO’s records provincial epidemiology and surveillance unit recorded at least confirmed five rabies deaths in the province.

Since January, it already recorded a total of three rabies deaths and 600 cases of animal bites from dogs, rats, cats and horses. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)