Dogs are considered to be a man’s bestfriend. They seem to look very sweet and adorable. They patiently wait for their owner and provide companionship. But what if things go wrong and suddenly they bite you? Their rabies can kill you.
The Department of Health (DOH) states that around 300 to 600 Filipinos die of rabies every year. The Philippines ranks among the highest in the world in terms of rabies prevalence. More than half of the victims are children between 5 and 14 years old especially in the month of March since it is vacation and summer time. Kids were all around running and playing while the hot temperature affects the condition of our animals such as dogs and cats. They got irritated easily.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), rabies kills about 60,000 people every year worldwide, 95% of deaths occur in Asia and Africa. Most rabies cases in these regions are due to dog bites while in the continents of Europe, Australia, and the Americas, the source of rabies is through bat attacks.
Rabies is a lethal disease oftentimes transmitted to its victim through wild animals’ saliva and rabid dogs. Rabies is caused by lyssavirus infection entering through the wounds after some bites from an infected animal. Once a person is infected by rabies it causes an acute inflammation of the brain.
Rabies is scary and deadly. Once a person is exposed to the virus, the symptoms usually appear 2 to 12 weeks after the transmission of the virus into your body. It starts out with flu-like symptoms, and then followed by extreme unexplainable violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, partial paralysis, and confusion followed by a loss of consciousness. Another major symptom associated with rabies is hydrophobia, or fear of water. This refers to a set of symptoms in which the victim has difficulty swallowing and shows panic when presented liquids to drink, and therefore cannot quench their thirst. Saliva production is greatly increased and attempts to drink may cause excruciatingly painful spasms of the throat and larynx muscles. Once these symptoms are present, even with administration of proper medical care the chance of survival from rabies infection is very rare and usually resulted to death in 2 to 10 days.
Meanwhile dog bites on the head, neck and shoulder areas pose as said to be high-risk cases because the rabies can immediately spread to the brain. Bites in lower extremities are less dangerous yet still visit to the hospital is a must.
Rabies is incurable and yet preventable, if you think you’ve been exposed to the rabies virus, do not waste time and have a treatment within 10 days of infection to prevent the disease from appearing. Washing of wound as soon as possible with soap and water for about ten minutes has proven to be extremely effective in reducing the number of viral particles. After exposure, go to a hospital for safe measure.
A dog might seem friendly but make a reservation of touching it because it might be irritable at times especially to a stranger. Lara, a regular employee had recently bitten by their house dog. She was just passing on their gate when suddenly her dog attacked her. Though shocked from the incident, she still managed to move away and washed her wound with soap and water. She then went to San Lazaro Hospital for her rabies shots. San Lazaro Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila is known for its stock of anti-rabies vaccine. Lara had completed the 4 dozes of anti-rabies shots which have scheduled by her doctor. She now at least has peace of mind that after the incident and the procedures she have undergone, she’s now rabies-free.
Several activities were conducted such as free anti-rabies vaccination, mass castration and spray, information education campaign, launching of free-pre-exposure prophylaxis and Philhealth’s Animal Bite Treatment Package (ABTP). ABTP aims to support the National Rabies Prevention and Control program by defraying the cost of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) which is P3,000 per case, and treatment of animal bite patients who are Philhealth beneficiaries.
The Department of Health is always active in the effort to the goal of eliminating human rabies cases in the country and to its commitment in the declaration of a rabies – free Philippines by 2022.