Canine rabies cases in Cebu Province continued to drop in the last three years.
From 35 reported positive cases of canine rabies in 2011, this decreased to 16 in 2012 and 11 in 2013. As of October this year, six positive cases were recorded by the Department of Agriculture (DA) 7.
In the entire island of Cebu, the reported rabies cases in 2013 are 42. This year, DA recorded 40 positive cases of canine rabies as of last October.
Out of the 40, 18 cases came from Lapu-lapu City, 16 from Cebu City, two from Talisay City, and another two from Balamban town. Mandaue City and San Remegio have one rabies case each.
While there is a downward trend in the recorded positive rabies cases, the government officials are cautious, saying that the data is not a reliable gauge to determine a rabies free zone area.
“Especially those who are far from animal bite centers or laboratories might no longer bother to report these incidents,” explained Dr. Mary Ann Gabona, chief of the Public Animal Health Division in the Provincial Veterinarian’s Office.
The rabies prevention and control program is one of the priorities under the PNoy Administration. The national government, through the Department of Health (DOH), aims to achieve zero canine rabies case in 2020 and zero human rabies case in 2016.
Dr. Raffy Deray, manager of DOH’s National Rabies Prevention and Control Program, said rabies continue to be a public health problem in the country.
From 2010 to 2013, the disease caused the death of 876 persons. Last year, six human rabies cases were reported in Central Visayas. In 2014 as of this October, only one suspected case is reported yet.
About 84 percent of rabies diseases are transmitted by dogs. Deray said the common challenge of the vaccinators is how to implement the program in the far-flung areas.
This year the Provincial Government has revived the province-wide search for the best barangays implementing rabies eradication program.
Gabona said the barangay rabies eradication program will be a big help in realizing the objectives of the province. The Capitol aims to achieve a rabies-free Cebu by 2016.
Visayas is one of the beneficiaries of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and World Health Organization’s Rabies-Free Visayas Project.
Since 2011, the province achieved around 80 percent of rabies vaccination out of 339,798 dog population, with the collaboration of the BMGF, DOH and DA and the local government units.
The DOH allocated 2.2 million doses of vaccines to animal bite centers across the country this year. And in 2015, the amount will be doubled to 4.4 million.
On top of that, DA and BMGF also distributed vaccines directly to the LGUs.
Deray said they wanted to duplicate the strategy of other countries. He cited Mexico where, after 10 years of implementing vaccination program, the number of rabies cases has significantly reduced.