By Olsen O. Sacdalan
NAGA CITY --- There has been no reported case of rabies for seven months — the longest in record— in Naga City as of May 2018, according to city veterinarian Dr. Junios J. Elad, Jr. of the Naga City Veterinary Office.
Dr. Elad says this is a great improvement in comparison with their records in the previous years. “For the preceding years, we usually have cases of rabies as early as March,” he adds.
For the past three years, there has been 21 recorded cases of rabies in canines and three recorded cases of rabies in humans. In the previous year alone, seven cases of rabies were reported. The last reported case of rabies in this city was in Barangay Tinago last September; there has been no reported case since then.
The task of the Naga City Veterinary Office (NCVO) in containing rabies is in accordance with The National Rabies Prevention and Control Program which was mandated under Republic Act No. 9482 or “The Anti-Rabies Act of 2007”.
Dr. Elad states that the NCVO strives to uphold the goal of the program and the office aims “to control and eradicate rabies in Naga City.” He states that there are four activities under the program to achieve this goal.
House-to-house vaccination is one of the activities listed under the program. The vaccination process is done in this manner in order to vaccinate a greater number of dogs which, according to Dr. Elad, is important in raising herd immunity. He emphasizes the importance of herd immunity by pointing out that it greatly decreases the chances of the virus’ transmission should a rabid dog bite a vaccinated dog.
Another activity is stray dog elimination. Dr. Elad states that the chances of the virus being transmitted could be further decreased by reducing the number of stray dogs roaming around the city. “If there are no stray dogs roaming around the city, rabid dogs from outside of Naga would have nothing to bite. The rabid dogs would naturally die on its own in a few hours without transmitting the virus to other animals,” says Dr. Elad.
In addition to this, the “Education, Information, and Education Campaign” is one of the activities being implemented under the program. Dr. Elad states that it is important to raise public awareness about rabies prevention and control. He mentioned that CDs from the Department of Health (DOH) are screened in schools to educate students on how to avoid dog bites and how to deal with stray dogs. Aside from this, barangay officials, barangay health workers, and midwives undergo a briefing and lecture about rabies prevention and control a day before house-to-house vaccinations are conducted in their respective barangays.
Lastly, castration is another activity listed under the project. Dr. Elad mentions that castration supports the cause since it controls dog population.
Dr. Elad states that it is important to give prompt attention to rabies in canines to prevent the rabies from being transmitted to humans.
The NCVO coordinates with the City Health Office, Naga City Hospital, and the Department of Agriculture (DA) within the city government. DA supplies the necessary vaccines for the program. About 13,000 dozes are allocated every year.
The program is carried on annually for every first semester of the year. As of May 2018, the NCVO has already covered 18 out of 27 barangays for house-to-house vaccinations and they plan to finish by June, 2018.
Dr. Elad claims that the number of dogs in a barangay corresponds to the human population of the barangay. He listed the top five barangays with the most dogs; Concepcion Pequeña, Concepcion Grande, San Felipe, Sta. Cruz, and Cararayan.
For future developments in the program, Dr. Elad states that the City Hall’s approval for the establishment of dog pounds in every barangay in the city would be a tremendous help in controlling and eradicating rabies in the territory. “This is a big thing for us. It helps with quicker response. Instead of depending on us for catching rabid dogs, dog catchers can do it in our place. Afterwards, they can report it to us,” says Dr. Elad.