The Department of Health (DOH) reported on Wednesday that cases of human rabies and deaths due to animal bites have increased in Central Visayas in the second quarter of this year.
During the period, five deaths – two in Cebu Province and one each in Bohol, Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City – were reported out of 20,591 rabies cases.
This surpassed the four deaths reported in the first quarter of the year, two each in Cebu Province and Mandaue City out of the 19,382 recorded cases.
This means, nine people have died because of rabies in almost 40,000 bite cases during the first half of this year, compared to last year’s 59,773 cases and eight deaths.
“As of now, although the 3rd quarter isn’t finished yet which is from July to September, the estimated number of deaths in rabies will reach 15,” DOH-7 Regional Rabies Program manager Dr. Joanri Riveral said.
Cebu Province, which recorded the highest number of rabies cases with 11,536 and two deaths last year, remains on top of the list with 7,084 and two fatalities.
Cebu City comes in second with 3,221 cases and one death, followed by Negros Oriental with 2,883 cases, and Bohol with 2,288 cases and one fatality.
“This year, Cebu Province still occupies the same position maybe because of its bigger population,” Riveral said.
Riveral encouraged dog pet owners with open wounds to wash their wounds with soap and water for 15 minutes, as dogs usually lick their owners.
Riveral also advised those who were bitten by dogs not to go to quack doctors for treatment, stressing that the best place to get treatment and vaccination is the Animal Bite Treatment Center.
“If you are bitten by a dog with rabies, the best way is to consult a medical doctor, who will give you the best treatment. I don’t recommend treatment from quack doctors,” Riveral said.
Likewise, a person who died from rabies must be buried within 24 hours from the time he or she was declared dead to prevent the spread of the virus, Riveral added.
Riveral also warned pet owners to have their pets vaccinated at least once a year, otherwise they will be penalized. Local government units (LGUs) also offer anti-rabies injections for free.
“Whenever a dog bites a certain person, it is the pet owner’s responsibility to shoulder the expenses needed for the victim’s treatment. So it’s important to be a responsible pet owner,” Riveral said. (USJR intern Levirose Caballero/PNA)