Provincial vet pushes for Bantayan, Zaragosa islands to be declared rabies-free zones

The Cebu Provincial Veterinary Office is now working on the documents for the declaration of Bantayan Island and Zaragosa Island in Badian town as rabies-free zones.

Dr. Mary Ann Gabona, Veterinarian IV of the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO), announced this during the Kapihan sa PIA held at the Provincial Information Agency (PIA) 7 Office on Wednesday, March 27.

Gabona was joined by Dr. Alice Utlang, the Cebu City Government veterinarian, during the Kapihan sa PIA to talk about rabies case updates considering that March is the National Rabies Awareness Month.

Gabona said islands are usually the ones to be declared first as rabies-free zone because these are confined areas.

“Ma-trace up nato ang mosud nga iring ug iro sa area so highest possibility nga ma-rabies free jud sya,” she said.

In 2011, the Camotes Group of Islands, which consists of the towns of San Francisco, Tudela, Poro and Pilar, as well as Malapascua Island of Barangay Logon, Daanbantayan were declared as rabies-free zones by the Department of Health (DOH), in coordination with the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Gabona said that the PVO is hoping that the whole of Bantayan Island, which includes the towns of Santa Fe, Bantayan and Madridejos, and Zaragosa Island in Badian will be declared as rabies-free areas in September.

Gabona said one of the criteria in declaring an area as rabies-free zone is the absence of animal and human rabies case recorded for the last three years.

Other criteria are: certification from the municipal veterinary office and municipal health office that there is no animal and human rabies cases in the area; certification issued by the PVO and Provincial Health Office; at least 80 percent of the dog population in the area are already vaccinated during the preliminary evaluation; and there must be a submission of a dog head sample to the DA Central Visayas.

Gabona said the pre-assessment will be conducted by the DOH and DA-Central Visayas.

After that, the national offices of the two concerned government agencies will conduct another assessment.

Gabona said the PVO role is more on supervising and assisting the municipalities like providing anti-rabies vaccine to the low class municipalities, dog registration book, collar and dog tag.

She said that the PVO has also been doing its information and education campaign against rabies.

Gabona said the data for canine and human rabies cases since 2011 are erratic.

She said there are other towns that did not submit dog head samples for the rabies surveillance, which could be the reason why the data was irregular.

Based on the data provided by the PVO, from the 316,608 dog population of Cebu (excluding Lapu-Lapu City and Cebu City) in 2011, it went up to 339,798 in 2018.

For 2017 alone, at least 73 percent of the dog population were given anti-rabies shots.

As to canine rabies cases, there were 35 dogs recorded in 2011, 16 in 2012, 11 in 2013, five in 2014, five in 2015, eight in 2016 and also eight in 2017.

As to human rabies cases, six persons were affected in 2011, three in 2012, 2013 and 2014, six in 2015 and 2016, and 12 in 2017.

“Naa mi issues and concerns for the dog population survey. Di accurate ang survey. Target vaccination every year is 70 to 80 percent. Na-hit siya over the years pero ang question exact ba ang population?” said Gabona.

She said the PVO is now focusing on getting the right dog population in the province.

For Cebu City, Utlang said that it is important to know the right population of the dogs.

“Diha nasipyat among trabaho kay mangayo ra baya mi’g population sa barangay,” she said.

Utlang said they only expected around 70,000 dogs in Cebu City in 2018.

Through the help of an international organization, they learned through an accurate survey that there are actually around 167,000 dogs in Cebu City last year.

The Cebu City Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF) categorized the barangays from high risk, medium risk and low risk of rabies.

Utlang said for barangays that belonged to the high risk category, all dogs must be vaccinated.

Utlang shared that the high risk barangays include Guadalupe, Kalunasan, Lahug, Punta Princes, Bulacao, Inayawan, Mabolo, Basak San Nicolas and Pahina San Nicolas.

In the DVMF accomplishment report for 2018, they have spayed 1,493 dogs, 1,722 were neutered, 379 were adopted, 1,382 were impounded and 102,843 were vaccinated.

The department has also issued 476 citation tickets for the irresponsible dog owners.

Utlang reminded that in rabies control, there must be an education drive, responsible pet ownership and dog control population.

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