BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Department of Health (DOH-CAR) reported that five people died due to rabies in the region for the first forty weeks of this year.
Geeny Anne Austria of the DOH-CAR Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU), claimed the 5 rabies cases were reported during the reckoning period this year was similar to the 5 rabies cases recorded by the agency during the same period last year.
Based on the DOH-CAR report, cases were from Apayao with 4 or 80 percent of the total number of the reported rabies cases and non-CAR provinces – or 20 percent.
Further, experts reported there were 3 males contracted rabies which represent 60 percent of the total number of the recorded rabies cases in the region while the age range of the victims range from 4 to 59 years old with a median of 35 years old.
Health authorities explained rabies is a zoonotic disease and human infection caused by lysavirus, usually occurring after a transdermal bite or scratch by an infected animal.
Moreover, transmission may also occur when infectious material, usually the saliva, comes into direct contact with the victim’s mucosa or fresh skin lesions.
Experts pointed out that very rarely, rabies may occur through inhalation of virus-containing aerosol or via infected organ transplants.
Austria described as a highly fatal disease characterized by fluctuations in consciousness, phobic or inspiratory spasms and autonomic instability.
Among the recommended prevention and control measures include provision of pre-exposure treatment to high risk personnel and post-exposure prophylaxis to animal bite victims; mass vaccination of dogs; impounding, field control and disposition of unregistered, stray and unvaccinated dogs and conduct of information and education campaign on the prevention and control of rabies.
Moreover, rabies is said to cause the inflation of the brain in humans and other mammals and early symptoms include fever and tingling at the site of exposure and that the symptoms can be followed by violent movements, uncontrolled excitements, fear of water, inability to move parts of the body, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
Health officials reiterated that when the symptoms are evident, the result is always death of the individual that contracted the disease.
The time period between contracting the disease and the start of symptoms is usually one to three months, but can vary from less than one week to more than one year.
However, the time depends on the distance the virus must travel along peripheral nerves to reach the central nervous system.
Austria advised individuals bitten by dogs and cats to immediately wash their wounds with soap and free flowing water and immediately seek medical attention from the nearest medical facility in their place so that appropriate vaccination could be given to the patients while observing the behaviour of the animal that bit them for future medical procedures that could be applied to spare the life of the said persons.
By Dexter A. See