GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 13 Aug) – Efforts to free South Cotabato province of major animal diseases have continued to gain ground after the area sustained its clean record during the first six months of the year in terms of animal disease outbreaks.
Dr. Lorna Lamorena, South Cotabato provincial veterinarian, said Tuesday they have not recorded a single animal disease outbreak from January to June this year in any part of the province’s 10 towns and lone city.
She said such clean record has now extended to 18 months after the area was also spared of disease outbreaks in the entire 2012.
“We monitored some cases of Surra disease but they did not reach the outbreak level as we immediately contained them,” Lamorena said in a media forum.
The official said the confirmed cases of Surra, which is a parasitic disease that affects various farm animals, emerged within areas bordering South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces.
She said their assessment showed that the disease did not originate in the province but in some areas in Sultan Kudarat.
Surra is a hemorrhagic disease transmitted by a bloodsucking fly and caused by a protozoan parasite called trypanosoma evansi.
The disease primarily affects horses, dogs, cattle, carabaos and swine. Symptoms of surra infection include acute or chronic loss of body condition and behavioral abnormalities that may eventually lead to the animal’s death.
Lamorena said they were able to control the emergence and spread of Surra and other animal diseases like hemorrhagic septicemia and hog cholera in the province due to their early interventions and year-round vaccination activities.
In the case of hemorrhagic septicemia, she said they conduct vaccination activities twice a year in all barangays in the province.
In terms of the deadly rabies virus, Lamorena said they recorded three cases of confirmed dog infections but none of them involved humans.
She said two cases were reported in Banga and one in Surallah town.
“These are cases of confirmed rabid dogs. These were found in separate areas and there were no additional infections recorded so far,” she said.
Lamorena said their assessment also showed that the rabies cases involved dogs that came from the neighboring provinces.
“They were either bought outside the province or given as gifts to their owners,” she said.
“Majority of our dogs here in South Cotabato are already vaccinated for rabies so the possibility of an outbreak is quite remote,” Lamorena added.
A report from the Department of Health Region 12’s epidemiology and surveillance unit showed that the province has not recorded a single case of rabies infection in 2012.
In 2011, the regional health office said the province recorded a total of five deaths due to rabies infection, mainly from rabid dogs.