GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 March) — The city government is targeting to vaccinate around 50,000 dogs until yearend in line with its expanded campaign against the deadly rabies virus.
Dr. Antonio Marin, chief of the City Veterinary Office, said the move is part of their continuing efforts to prevent the spread of the disease among dogs as well as possible cases of human infection in the area.
He said such target is around 80 percent of over 60,000 dogs in the city’s 26 barangays.
The World Health Organization has recommended that at least 80 percent of an area’s dog population be vaccinated annually for rabies.
“We’re currently doubling our efforts to ensure that we meet such target,” Marin said.
In 2016, Marin said they were able to vaccinate a total of 27,399 pet dogs in their house-to-house rabies vaccination activities.
He said they increased their target for this year as the city remained a “hotspot” in the entire country in terms of rabies cases.
The city specifically landed on the top five two years ago for rabies cases among highly urbanized cities.
Last year, the local government has not recorded any case of rabies infection among humans but 22 dogs were found positive of the disease based on data released by the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Barangay Lagao.
A total of 7,259 cases of dog bites were reported to the City Health Office’s Animal Bite Center in the same period.
Since Jan. 1, Marin said two pet dogs in the city have already tested positive of rabies infection.
He said they immediately conducted massive dog vaccination activities in the affected areas to prevent the disease from spreading further.
In the last two months, the official said they already vaccinated a total of 1,854 pet dogs in parts of the city.
Meantime, in line with the observance of the Rabies Awareness Month, Marin said they have set a series of information and education activities in local schools and communities.
“Summer is fast approaching so it’s important for our residents to be reminded again of the risks of rabies infection. Historically, rabies cases are high during summer vacation,” he said.
From P800,000 last year, the city government increased the program’s budget for 2017 to around P1.3 million to facilitate its expansion.
The city’s rabies control program is also being supported by the Department of Agriculture in Region 12. (MindaNews)