In March 1999, then President Joseph Estrada declared March as “Rabies Awareness Month” via Executive Order No. 84. The ultimate goal is to have a rabies free Philippines by the year 2020.
This year’s theme is “Bakunadong Pusa’t aso, sa Rabis Protektado” (loosely translated: Get your cats and dogs vaccinated against rabies).
In addition, the annual Rabies Awareness Month aims to provide proper knowledge on the prevention of the disease and its management. Proper vaccination of household pets especially dogs and cats and information about avoiding stray rabid animals are some of the ways rabies can be prevented.
In an effort to get control of rabies in the Philippines in addition to the awareness activities going on throughout the country, the Philippines Department of Agriculture announced that they will be waiving the payment of laboratory fees at the Philippine Animal Health Center of the Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) to have their pets tested for rabies through 2016.
Waiving the lab fee is in line with DA-BAI’s thrust to hasten the goal of a rabies-free Philippines through dog vaccination.
“There are a number of people who could not afford to pay the Php 200.00 laboratory fee for rabies examination. In waiving the laboratory fee, more pet owners especially in the rural areas will be encouraged to have their dogs tested for rabies” said Dr. Emelinda Lopez, Rabies Focal Person at DA-BAI. This will provide a clearer picture of the disease situation and will support the channeling of resources for rabies prevention and control in greatly affected areas.
In addition, PhilHealth, the health insurance program of the Philippines, will provide Animal Bite Treatment (ABT) for all of it’s beneficiaries.
Earlier this month, the Philippines Department of Health issued a health advisory on rabies:
Rabies is a deadly viral infection that is mainly spread by infected animals.
HOW CAN YOU GET RABIES?
Close contact with infected saliva (rabies virus) via bites or scratches from rabid animals, like dogs
• Headache and fever
• Pain or numbness of bite site
• Delirium and paralysis
• Muscle spasms
• Hydrophobia and aerophobia
TREATMENT (When Bitten by a Dog)
• Wash the wound immediately with soap and running water.
• Consult immediately even while observing the dog.
• Observe the dog for 14 days and consult your physician if any of the following occurs:
− Dog becomes wild and runs aimlessly.
− Dog drools (saliva).
− Dog bites any moving or non-moving object.
− Dog does not eat or drink.
− Dog dies within observation period. • If dog cannot be observed (stray dog),
or if suspected to be rabid, consult your physician immediately or go to the nearest Animal Bite Treatment Center in your area.
PREVENTION AND CONTROL
￼￼• Be a responsible pet owner.
￼￼• Have your pet dog immunized by a veterinarian against rabies at 3 months old and every year thereafter.
• Never allow your pet dog to roam the streets.
• Take care of your pet dog: bathe it; give it clean food; and provide clean sleeping quarters.
As an individual:
• Get yourself pre-exposure anti-rabies vaccine, especially if you have a high-risk occupation.