Pet owners urged to avail of free anti-rabies shots

“Prevention is better than cure.”

This, in a nutshell, was the advice of Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) head Dr. Mary Rose Vincoy as she encouraged dog owners to have their pets vaccinated with anti-rabies.

“Since dogs are common household pets and constantly have close contact with humans, we encourage owners to have their pets vaccinated to shield them from getting infected by the disease,” said Vincoy.

The province’s head veterinarian has been doing rounds of talking engagements in line with the National Rabies Month, which is celebrated in March.

Free anti-rabies shots are available in various local government units (LGUs) that get assistance from the PVO for the vaccines.

Vincoy explained the misconception of rabies, which people commonly believed to be inborn in dogs.

She said rabies is not inherent in animals but an acquired viral disease that can spread mainly through bites.

“Once you are bitten by dogs or cats, it does not mean that you’re already infected with rabies unless the pets have the disease. As precaution, however, you must see a doctor immediately and get anti-rabies vaccines,” she said.

If bitten, Vincoy advised owners to isolate their pets and observe them for at least 15 days to look for symptoms of rabies infection. Signs include paralysis of the throat and jaw muscles, foaming at the mouth, loss of appetite, seizures, and sudden death.

As part of its campaign to quell rabies virus in dogs, the PVO will conduct free vaccination, deworming, spaying, and consultations in several LGUs. It will also give free supplements for dogs.

Among the places PVO will visit are Cordova (March 8), Argao (March 7-8), Talisay (March 10), Lapu-Lapu City (March 11 and 18), San Remegio (March 13-14), Dumanjug (March 16) and Moalboal (March 30-31).

In Cebu province, Lapu-Lapu City has topped the list of positive cases of rabies infection in the past two years.

The Department of Agriculture and Department of Health (DOH), meanwhile, declared Camotes and Malapascua islands, rabies-free.

Quoting reports, DOH records show that a total of 432,458 animal bite cases all over the country resulted in 226 deaths in 2015. Dogs are the primary source of rabies transmission, though cats and other animals also carry the virus.