SouthCot steps up anti-rabies vaccination campaign

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 14 Feb) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is set to expand its vaccination activities against rabies for pet animals, especially dogs, as it moves to eradicate the disease in the area in three years.

Dr. Flora Bigot, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Veterinary Office, said Thursday preparations are underway for another round of massive anti-rabies vaccination in all 199 barangays in the province.

She said they are targeting to cover around 80,000 dogs within the province’s 10 towns and lone city for the year-round activity.

In the province, dogs were the major carriers of rabies although it can spread through other warm-blooded animals like cats, cows and even bats.

Bigot said they received earlier this month some 8,000 vials of anti-rabies vaccines worth P3 million from the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI).

“We received the allocation because we submitted a proposal to eradicate rabies in the entire South Cotabato by 2021,” she said in an interview.

Under the program, she said they will assign teams to conduct community-based vaccination activities in all barangays.

The move is aimed to cover more areas and all pet dogs of households in coordination with the barangay councils, she said.

In 2017, the province recorded 18 rabies cases, the most number of infections and human deaths in the entire Region 12.

Such figure was the third highest in the entire country for the period, according to DA-BAI and the Department of Health.

Last year, the number of rabies deaths in the area decreased to eight as the local government sustained its year-round anti-rabies vaccination.

The South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office also opened more animal bite centers and conducted awareness campaigns in the barangays as part of the interventions.

“Dog vaccination is still the most effective and cheapest way to curtail the spread of rabies so it will be the focus of our eradication strategy,” Bigot added. (MindaNews)