Region 12 lacks anti-rabies vaccines

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 March) – The Department of Health in Region 12 or Soccsksargen warned residents on Tuesday over the shortage of anti-rabies vaccines for humans in the wake of the rising animal bite cases in the area.

Dr. Ali Tumama, DOH-12’s infectious diseases cluster head, said Tuesday they already recorded over 9,000 cases of animal bites, specifically involving warm-blooded animals like dogs and cats, since Jan. 1.

In the first quarter of 2018, he said around 15,000 animal bite cases were reported in the entire region.

The figures on rabies infection among humans were not immediately available and the agency has been testing the involved dogs and other animals for the disease.

Tumama said one of the major problems in the area so far is the shortage of anti-rabies vaccines for humans.

“That’s actually a global problem right now due to the pullout of some vaccine brands,” he said over local television show Magandang Umaga South Central Mindanao.

The DOH had temporary suspended the procurement of Rabipur, a prequalified vaccine by the World Health Organization (WHO), after it was found with bacterial residues.

The move has affected the supply of other anti-rabies vaccines, including the WHO prequalified Verorab.

Tumama said at least two brands are currently available in the country — Speeda and Vaccirub — as approved by the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration.

“There are some counterfeit brands and I’m urging our residents not to buy or use them,” he said.

With the prevailing dry weather in the area, he urged residents to be more cautious due to the usual rise in animal bite cases during the period.

He said dogs and other animals are usually restless and irritable during the summer season as a result of the intense heat.

“It’s important for our pet owners to be more responsible by making sure that the animals are well-fed, taking regular baths and vaccinated for rabies,” he said.

Tumama advised animal bite victims to immediately seek treatment in animal bite and treatment centers of rural health units and some private hospitals to prevent possible infection with the deadly rabies virus. (MindaNews)