GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 April) – Veterinary personnel in South Cotabato province have expanded their vaccination campaign against rabies as it recorded cases of the deadly virus among pet dogs in three localities.
Dr. Byron dela Cruz, animal health and regulatory division head of the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVET), said three of the seven dog specimens that they submitted for laboratory testing last month have so far turned out positive for rabies.
He said the rabid animals came from Koronadal City and the municipalities of Polomolok and Sto. Niño.
The massive vaccination of warm-blooded animals, especially dogs and cats, are ongoing in these areas to prevent the further spread of the virus as well as possible human infection that could lead to deaths, he said.
“We’re conducting simultaneous vaccination activities down to the household level to effectively contain the virus,” Dela Cruz said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Last year, 15 of the 24 samples submitted by PVET to the Department of Agriculture’s Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory here came out positive for rabies.
It was found in six dogs from Koronadal City; two each from Tantangan, Tupi and Surallah; and one each from Banga, Tampakan and Sto. Niño.
A report from the Integrated Provincial Health Office said that two children have died in the first quarter this year due to confirmed rabies infection after being bitten by rabid dogs. The victims were from Tupi and Tantangan towns.
In 2020, the province recorded six deaths due to rabies, with two cases coming from Tupi and one each from Koronadal City, Polomolok, Tampakan and Tboli.
Five of the victims, who were all bitten by rabid dogs, were children aged 10 and below while the other lone fatality was a 31-year-old male.
From January to March, PVET records showed that a total of 18,529 dogs and cats were already vaccinated against rabies in the province’s seven municipalities, exceeding its target of 11,000 animals for the period.
Polomolok town posted the highest vaccination coverage with 5,830, followed by Banga with 4,733, Surallah with 3,220, Sto. Niño with 2,154, Tupi with 1,844 and Tboli with 376.
Dela Cruz urged pet owners to bring their dogs voluntarily to their municipal agriculture offices or submit them for vaccination during their house-to-house visits.
“Do not wait for the effect of the vaccine to expire to avoid the risk of rabies infection,” he said.
He assured that their office has enough supply of anti-rabies vaccines to sustain their campaign until the end of the year. (MindaNews)