Surigao City records zero rabies case since 2008

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/09 March) – Not a single rabies case has been recorded in Surigao City since 2008, an official said.

Garoste C. Menor, a nurse who heads the Animal Bites Treatment Center of the City Health Office attributed the zero incidence of rabies to their relentless information campaign.

“We have no record of any rabies cases since 2008 and we aim to maintain that zero incidence,” Menor said.

She also said cases of animal bites have dramatically dropped last year with only 771 cases compared to 1,032 in 2010.

She said that last year dog bites reached 667 cases, cat bites 61 cases, and 41 cases of bites caused by monkeys, rats and other animals.

In 2010, dog bites recorded 909 cases, cat bites 78 cases, and bites by other animals 45 cases.

Menor expressed alarm at the growing cases of rat bites from January to February this year, a total of 10 cases. “Maybe because January and February are rainy season and rats will go out of their shelter,” she noted.

But she stressed that dogs and cats are still the leading animals that victimize people.

She said all victims were given proper medical treatment including pre-exposure vaccination.

Menor, however, admitted there were many cases that were not reported to them.

“Others still go to tandok or quack doctors while some would choose self-medication,” she said.

She advised victims to immediately see a doctor in hospitals or visit the city health office particularly the Animal Bite Treatment Center in order for them to be treated immediately with the right medication.

She said she had met a few quack doctors in the city and warned them that they can be held liable if something goes wrong with their clients.

“We told the quack doctors that they not only risk the lives of their clients but they themselves because as we saw their practice, they suck the liquid or venom from the wounds which exposes them to the disease,” she said.

Meanwhile, since March has been declared Rabies Awareness Month, health officials urged the public to have their pets especially dogs and cats injected with anti-rabies vaccines.

Dr. Alan F. Quines, veterinary officer of City Veterinary Office, said they target to vaccinate at least 3,000 dogs this year.

Since January this year, at least 500 dogs in the urban barangays have been vaccinated.

Later this month, they will also go to 21 island barangays for their animal vaccination campaign.

Quines said they are currently conducting a house-to-house visit to pet owners.

He said this year is better because pet owners appreciate their effort of doing a house to house vaccination of pets. He said that in the previous years they conducted vaccination in a barangay hall and other public venues which pet owners found inconvenient.

“They really like our service and pet owners would not hesitate to have their dogs vaccinated because aside from being free of charge, they find it hassle-free noting this time they don’t have to go anymore to our center,” he said.

The City Veterinary Office vaccinated a total of 2,656 dogs last year and 2,713 in 2010.

It also impounded 236 dogs in 2010 and 2011. Fifty-eight of the impounded dogs were claimed by their owners.

Quines added they will continue seizing stray dogs and other animals this year.

Dog bite is the leading mode of transmission of rabies worldwide.

According to the Department of Health, every year 50,000 children with ages 15 years and below are affected by rabies. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)