By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Negros Occidental Provincial Health Office (PHO) reported that the death of a one-year-old boy from Moises Padilla town is the first suspected rabies case in the province this year.
PHO head Dr. Girlie Pinongan said the child, a resident of the town’s Barangay Macagahay, was bitten by their pet dog last week.
Based on information from the PHO, the victim’s parents did not immediately send the child to be medically examined and treated.
The child later died at the hospital on Monday, January 22.
Meanwhile, Pinongan appealed to residents to immediately seek medical assistance if bitten by an animal.
She also called on the local government units (LGUs) to strictly impose their respective ordinances on responsible pet ownership.
PHO data revealed there was a drop in rabies cases in the province last year, with six, compared to 10 cases recorded in 2022.
Earlier, the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) said they recorded 17 positive rabies cases among dogs in Negros Occidental, including its capital Bacolod City.
PVO head Dr. Placeda Lemana said they vaccinated a total of 123,000 dogs, which was 45 percent of the over 200,000 dog population.
Lemana said there had been a drop in the vaccination rate as the province had not received its supply of rabies vaccines from the Department of Agriculture.
The PVO is currently lobbying for the purchase of rabies vaccines as they target to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the total dog population.
Lemana said they are encouraging LGUs in Negros Occidental to purchase their own supplies.
The PVO is also expecting the number of rabies cases to increase this year, brought by the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rabies is a preventable viral disease that is often transmitted through a rabid animal’s bite.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system.
The first symptoms following a bite from a rabid animal include weakness or discomfort, and fever or headache, the CDC said.
There may also discomfort, prickling or an itching sensation at the bite site.
These symptoms may last for days, and if left untreated, may develop into cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, agitation, hydrophobia, and ultimately death.
Treatment for rabies includes post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which consists of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) and anti-rabies vaccine, given after the exposure.
A vaccine dose will be given after three, seven and 14 days.
For those who have never been vaccinated against rabies, PEP should always include the administration of both HRIG and the vaccine.
The combination of doses is recommended for both bite and non-bite exposures, regardless of the interval between exposure and initiation of treatment./DGB, WDJ