In aim of lessening the risk of rabies contagion of humans due to dog and cat bites in the city, Vice Mayor Eric Martinez re-launched his annual free anti-rabies vaccination program dubbed as, “Bakuna Para sa Aso at Pusa,” which would run for the entire weekends of March and April this year.
Assisted by the City Veterinary Services Office, a total of 968 canines and 58 felines were vaccinated during the first weekend of operation. The pilot sites were Concepcion Covered Court and Constantino Elementary School in Barangay Marulas on March 3, Saturday; and Serrano Elementary School, Doña Ata Elementary School, and Manotoc Basketball Court in Barangay Marulas on March 4, Sunday. It was followed through on the following weekend at San Miguel Heights Elementary School and Batimana Compound Basketball Court in Barangay Marulas last Saturday, March 10 and Marulas Elementary School, Elysian Subdivision and Valenzuela National High School last Sunday, March 11, with 711 canines and 93 felines vaccinated.
In 2011, there was an alarming 3,064 reported animal bite cases at the City Health Department of Valenzuela. On a macro scale, the Department of Health (DOH) also revealed that the Philippines is one of the top countries with high rabies cases in the world, totalling to 350-400 number of deaths annually.
To eradicate the problem and to manifest how serious the local government is on rabies prevention, a total of 14,254 canines and 651 felines were vaccinated last year, and the office of Vice Eric is on the frontline in bringing the services down to the communities. “My goal each year is to have at least 5000 dogs and cats vaccinated for anti-rabies. I feel obligated to lessen the financial burden of the owners in availing the vaccines for their pets. Kadalasan, walang pakialam ang mga tao kung nabakunahan ng anti-rabies ang alaga nila o hindi. (Usually, people do not care whether their dog is vaccinated or not.)”
Mayor WIN Gatchalian, likewise, expressed his full support on the program as he correlates animal bite issue with public health problem. “We need to consistently partake on anti-rabies campaigns so that Valenzuelanos could better internalize the importance of responsible pet-ownership that is tantamount to the goal of rabies-free Philippines,” he said.
Although 88% of rabies infection is acquired from dogs and about 2% from cats, viral transmission could also occur by handling a dead animal contaminated with the virus. This is if they touch their eyes or lips, or if they have traces of the animal’s fluids on their body.
The incubation period for rabies to develop can be as long as five years but can be as abrupt as a few days. Persons bitten and scratched by rabies-carrying animals should wash their wound immediately by soap and water. The dog must be placed under observation for 14 days to check for some changes such as constant growling and barking, dilated pupils, disorientation, craving to eat any object, and seizures. Usually, the animal dies in three to seven days. If evident of these symptoms, the patients must be vaccinated immediately. If the animal cannot be observed, it is best to consult the nearest health center or public hospital.