At least 13 people, four adults and nine children, in Cabatangan village, Zamboanga have been referred for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and are being monitored after eating infected dog meat, according to a Zamboanga Today report.
Zamboanga City Veterinarian Mario Arriola warned residents to take measures against eating infected meat because of the risk of the deadly virus.
The rabid dog is known to have attacked a cat and 2 dogs in the area.
This situation is not unique to the Philippines. Last year, a study by Nigerian researchers revealed that 5% of dog meat in the study area of Abia State was rabies tainted.
Other countries that consume dog meat include: China, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Polynesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Arctic and Antarctic and two cantons in Switzerland.
The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) says half a million dogs are slaughtered annually in the Philippines. The Philippine dog meat trade is primarily centered in the city of Baguio, in the northern Luzon Island province of Benguet.
A regional director of the Philippines National Meat Inspection Commission publicly stated that dog meat is not inspected by the Commission, and further called the consumption of dog meat “dangerous.
Concerning the rabies risk, AWI says on their website:
Dog meat is additionally linked to the spread of rabies, a disease that kills approximately 10,000 dogs and 300 people per year in the Philippines. Evidence shows that rabies is present and potentially transmitted throughout all stages of the dog meat industry—sourcing, trading, slaughtering, and consumption—impeding efforts towards eradicating rabies in the region.
According to the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, all mammals are susceptible to rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, coyotes and cats are the likely suspects. Other animals like otters and ferrets are also high risk. Mammals like rabbits, squirrels, rodents and opossums are rarely infected.
Rabies infected animals can appear very aggressive, attacking for no reason. Some may act very tame. They may look like they are foaming at the mouth or drooling because they cannot swallow their saliva. Sometimes the animal may stagger (this can also be seen in distemper). Not long after this point they will die. Most animals can transmit rabies days before showing symptoms.
Initially, like in many diseases, the symptoms of rabies are non-specific; fever, headache and malaise. This may last several days. At the site of the bite, there may be some pain and discomfort. Symptomsthen progress to more severe: confusion, delirium, abnormal behavior and hallucinations. If it gets this far, the disease is nearly 100% fatal.
Worldwide, it is estimated that there are more than 69,000 deaths due to rabies annually.