BAGUIO CITY – Rabies cases caused by animal bites in the Cordillera increased by over three hundred percent over the past eight years causing alarm among health experts on the need to seek early consultation after being bitten by alleged rabid animals.
Roy Fiatching, Medical Technologist of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC), revealed from only 5,000 animal bite cases in 2008, the number of animal bite cases in the region increased to a whopping 16,724 cases last year and 9,561 cases for the first semester of this year.
“Individuals bitten by animals, especially cats and dogs, must immediately seek early medical attention for proper medical care, including getting the appropriate medicines and/or eventually vaccination once it will be discovered that the animals involved are rabid. The increase in the number of animal bite cases regionwide only shows that people are now aware of the importance of being provided medical treatment when bitten by a dog or a cat,” Fiatching stressed.
However, the BGHMC official revealed there were two cases of reported deaths last year due to bites by rabid animals, while one case of death was reported in Abra last August.
According to him, people must be aware that rabid animals appear to be pale and usually have no appetite and love to roam around, thus when bitten by a rabid animal, individuals must immediately observe the animal’s behaviour within the prescribed 14-day observation period.
When the animal that has bitten an individual dies within the 14-day observation period, Fiatching advised family members and relatives of those who were bitten to immediately subject the head of the animal to the appropriate tests in the animal bite centers established regionwide so experts can confirm whether or not the animal is rabid and so they will initiate the next steps to facilitate medication.
Fiatching disclosed some 21 animal bite centers had already been established by different government agencies regionwide to make it more accessible for patients to seek medical help due to the urgency of the tests on animals that died within the prescribed 14-day observation period.
He added all the provinces have at least one animal bite center aside from centers that were established in different hospitals and veterinary centers in areas that were previously identified with high incidents of rabies cases.
Fiatching noted Baguio City and Kalinga top the areas in the region with high prevalence of animal bite cases primarily because of their huge population but the availability of health facilities to immediately attend to the needs of individuals being bitten by rabid animals also lessens the exposure of the people to untimely deaths due to to the accessibility of interventions in these places.
He appealed to people to immediately seek medical attention in the nearest health facility once bitten by an animal and animal lovers should make sure that their pets are immunized from rabies.
By Dexter A. See