The regional Department of Health (DOH-7) office in Cebu City says there has been nine human rabies deaths recorded year-to-date, according to a Philippines media report Wednesday.


So far in 2017, more than 20,000 animal bites have been reported to local health officials.

This compares to 59,773 animal bite cases and eight deaths caused by rabies in all of 2016.

DOH medical specialist Dr. Joanri Riveral reminded the public not to take chances when bitten by an animal. Those who were bitten should undergo vaccination at the nearest health center. She also reminded pet owners to ensure their pets are vaccinated.

LISTEN: Everything you wanted to know about rabies

Related: Philippines: Infected dog meat results in rabies PEP for 13 in Zamboanga

Rabies is a human infection that occurs after a transdermal bite or scratch by an infected animal, like dogs and cats. It can be transmitted when infectious material, usually saliva, comes into direct contact with a victim’s fresh skin lesions. Rabies may also occur, though in very rare cases, through inhalation of virus-containing spray or through organ transplants.

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Image/Philippines DOH
Image/Philippines DOH

Rabies is considered to be a neglected disease, which is 100% fatal though 100% preventable. It is not among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the country but it is regarded as a significant public health problem because (1) it is one of the most acutely fatal infections and (2) it is responsible for the death of 200-300 Filipinos annually.