16 die from rabies in South Cotabato

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 August) — Health authorities in South Cotabato province alerted residents anew over the rising cases of rabies infection that already resulted to 16 confirmed deaths since January.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, said Friday the latest fatality was recorded last Sunday, Aug. 13, at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal City.

“That’s already our 16th case. Last year we had eight total deaths. We still have four months left (for the year) and we already recorded 16 fatalities,” he said.

A report released by the IPHO’s epidemiology and surveillance unit (PESU) showed that the province’s rabies cases and deaths have continued to increase since January.

The municipalities of Lake Sebu and T’boli posted the most number of cases with four each, followed by Polomolok with three, Koronadal City with two, and Banga, Sto, Nino and Norala with one each.

The PESU report said the victims were aged between five to 70 years-old and majority of them were males.

At least 12 of the cases or 75 percent involved rabid dogs that did not undergo rabies vaccination.

Aturdido reminded residents to immediately seek treatment at the Animal Bite Centers (ABC) in case they are bitten by warm blooded animals, especially dogs.

In Koronadal City, he said the main ABC is located at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital and they have accredited another facility at the Doctors’ Clinic and Hospital.

He said the other ABCs are at the Upper Valley Community Hospital in Surallah town and the rural health units in Polomolok and Tantangan.

“Please don’t hesitate to seek treatment in our bite centers as rabies is now in alarming status in South Cotabato,” he said.

Aturdido assured that the IPHO and the bite centers have enough anti-rabies vaccines for postexposure prophylaxis and are given for free to bite victims.

He said the Department of Health (DOH) has provided vaccines to augment the IPHO’s standby stocks.

The DOH provides 60 percent of the province’s needs for anti-rabies vaccines for humans, which cost PHP1800 per vial.

The IPHO has also requested augmentation from other local government units in the province for the purchase of anti-rabies vaccines. (MindaNews)