Davao among cities with most rabies cases this year

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 December) — Davao City is among the top 10 cities in the country with the highest number of rabies incidences this year, with 10 cases as of November, according to Rafael Mercado, Department of Agriculture assistant regional director.

Speaking at the Rabies Awareness Forum Wednesday for barangay officials at the Sangguniang Panlungsod Wednesday, Mercado said Quezon City tops the list with 24 cases.

Pateros, Mandaluyong, Valenzuela and Navotas do not have reports of animal or human rabies cases.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao recorded no rabies cases in 2012 and 2013.

In 2013, there were 27 animal rabies cases in region XI, with 16 human cases reported for the same year.

Mercado said that as of November, 552 out of 1,954 samples sent to various animal control units nationwide turned out positive for rabies, with 97% of the cases coming from dogs. Others were from cats as well as pigs that were bitten by dogs.

Rabies caused by dog bites accounted for 35% of the cases in 2014, he sad. The number is almost twice the 2013 figure of 17%.

Department of Health regional director Abdullah Dumama Jr. said the Philippines wanted to eliminate rabies by 2016.

Dumama said a region is considered rabies-free if it has no cases recorded for two consecutive years.

Mercado the DOH had pledged a total of P69.5 million for the anti-rabies program in a Memorandum of Agreement signed last month.

Mercado said it only costs owners to P35 to P50 to vaccinate their dogs, in contrast to the rising costs of the antidote for rabies.

The city already has an ordinance that promotes responsible pet ownership. City Ordinance 1457 prohibits stray dogs or cattle.

Stray dogs are defined as dogs found wandering in streets, plazas, markets, school premises and other public places.

The apprehended dogs will be impounded at the dog pound inMaa, while the owners will be fined P250 for the first day and an additional P50 for the succeeding days.

After three days, the dog will be euthanized by the City Veterinary Office.

Mercado said that ideally, 70% of the dogs in an area should be vaccinated to isolate the foci of incidence.

He noted that while there are already laws that penalize irresponsible dog owners, no one has filed a case so far.

Dumama said some local government units have been doing it proactively.

“Other LGUs even have a bracket of penalties for cases of dog bites,” he said. “The fines in some LGUs depend on whether the victim was bitten while at work as well as rules for different situations and where the dog bit the victim.”

He said he was in favor adopting such a rule in Davao City.

Republic Act 9482 or the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 penalizes pet owners P2,000 for failing to getting their dogs registered and immunized.

Owners who refuse to have their dogs placed under observation will be fined P10,000, while owners who refuse to shoulder the expenses of any person bitten by their dogs will be fined P25,000.

Owners who refuse to put their dogs on a leash will be fined P500.

The city, meanwhile, penalizes owners of dogs who do not pick up the feces of their pets up to P1,000, and encourages the adoption of stray dogs in separate ordinances.

A councilor, meanwhile, proposed building one animal shelter in each district in a bid to eliminate rabies cases in the city.

Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, chair of the committee on health said Wednesday the move does not require an ordinance. (MindaNews)