ILOILO City – The provincial government of Guimaras will try to reclaim its “rabies-free” status that was revoked following the diagnosis of two cases of positive canine rabies in the island-province.
“We have to start all over again. We are determined to reclaim the status of Guimaras as rabies-free,” Gov. Samuel Gumarin said in an interview last week.
Gumarin said it is unfortunate that two stray dogs were found positive although they have no human rabies or deaths.
The dogs were monitored to have come from the towns of Jordan and Nueva Valencia. He said they were also able to trace all other dogs that got in contact with the rabid stray dogs.
The governor disclosed that they will allocate a higher budget for anti-rabies vaccines and promotion responsible pet ownership. He said they are currently still in the process of deliberating their proposed budget for next year.
One of the reasons for the spread of rabies, according to Gumarin, was the failure of vaccination as he underscored the need to ensure herd immunity.
“That was three months ago, so we are very sure that we were able to prevent the further spread of rabies,” he said.
Gumarin also appealed for families to start letting go of their dogs that they could no longer afford to sustain.
The province of Guimaras has an estimated dog population of 30,000.
Dr. Marie Jocelyn Te, Rabies Prevention and Control Program medical coordinator of the Department of Health-Center for Health Development 6, earlier said that they are now focusing on Guimaras because of their increasing animal bite cases and they were found to have canine rabies positive cases.
“Once you are declared as rabies-free you have to have zero case even from canine rabies. It so happened that upon checking by the Department of Agriculture, they have positive canine rabies,” she explained.
If they want to regain the title, they have to go full blast with their vaccination next year. Guimaras was declared rabies-free in 2013.
With the revocation of the title of Guimaras being a rabies-free province, only Boracay Island and 10 barangays of Concepcion, Iloilo remain rabies-free in Western Visayas.
To acquire a rabies-free tag, a province, a town or an island must not have positive canine rabies in the past five years; 70 percent of their dog population is immunized; there are no human deaths, and initiatives are being implemented relative to the anti-rabies program.
DOH said rabies is considered as a public health problem in the Philippines as it is an acutely fatal infection responsible for at least 200 deaths in the country annually. (With a report from PNA/PN)