Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Bohol eyes some islands’ 
Rabies free declaration

CORTES, Bohol October 30, (PIA)—The move to declare parts of Bohol as rabies free, moves to a start with program authorities eyeing the declaration of a island towns and islets where isolating dog populations can be manageable. 

Provincial Veterinarian (PV) Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz bared the move as rabies program authorities eye massive anti-rabies program implementation in Carlos P. Garcia Island, Pamilacan Island off Baclayon town, Balicasag Island off Panglao and Cabilao Island in Loon.

Other island barangays can follow suit before going to the mainland declarations, Office of the PV sources revealed. 

The move to pick islands as rabies free zones comes after other provincial anti-rabies programs use similar strategies in line with the global target of a rabies-free Philippines in 2020. 

Already a leading anti-rabies program implementer with its community mobilization against the dreaded disease that claims almost 100% fatality, Bohol’s anti rabies program earned the province the Gawad Galing Pook for public health years ago. 

Despite the accolade, Bohol has failed to declare itself as rabies free. 

Unlike the province of Siquijor, Camiguin and several island towns in Cebu and Palawan, isolating dog herds in Bohol would be very hard due to porous town boundaries, admits Dr Lapiz. 

The shift to get an island declared appeared too possible, added Provincial Health Office’s human rabies coordinator and nurse Polizena Rances. 

According to her, the OPV had already started initial talks with CPG Mayor Fernando Estavilla and the signs are positive that the local government unit would be a willing partner. 

In October 2014, Bureau of Animal Industry of the Department of Agriculture declared rabies-free the towns of island towns of Alabat and Perez in Quezon; Socorro and Bucas Grande Island in Surigao del Norte and the island municipalities of Linapacan, Kalayaan, Cagayancillo, Magsaysay, Araceli and Cuyo in Palawan.

Earlier, either the Department of Health (DOH) or the BAI declared the island provinces of Siquijor; Batanes; Camiguin, Biliran, and Dinagat as rabies free. 

Also declared were Apo Island, Dauin in Negros Oriental; Malapascua Island in Cebu; Camotes Island in Cebu; Olympia Island and Bais City in Negros Oriental; Culion, Palawan; Coron, Palawan; Busuanga, Palawan; Boracay Island and Malay municipality in Aklan.

Last year, also declared were rabies-free zones of Tingloy Island in Batangas, Agutaya and Balabac Islands in Palawan, Basilisa Ialnd in Dinagat, Cagdianao, Libjo, Loreto, San Jose and Tubajon all of Dinagat. 

Authorities have declared rabies-free around 35 towns in island provinces in the country. 

PHO Bohol sources said rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal and infection occurs primarily via bite wounds, or infected saliva entering an open cut or wound or mucous membrane, such as those in the mouth, nasal cavity or eyes.

According to Agriculture officials, rabies remains one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the country, responsible for the deaths of 200 to 300 Filipinos per year.

In 2013, they said around 98 percent of animal rabies cases in the country occurred in dogs, with 1.8 percent in cats, and 0.2 percent in goat. 

Globally, around 50,000-70,000 people die of rabies every year.

But, Dr Lapiz asserted that rabies is 99.9 percent fatal but is 100 percent preventable. 

“Vaccination is the most effective means to eradicate rabies in animals. Thus, we have undertaken the task of vaccinating over 80% of Bohol dog population,” Dr. Lapiz reported at a radio forum. 

Not really feeling alone in the campaign, OPV authorities said that DA and the DOH are actively cooperating to achieve a rabies-free Philippines by 2020.

She trusts in “the robust cooperation between the DA and the DOH, along with the strong support from local government units” as her strong weapon in eliminating rabies in Bohol.

In Bohol for example, free rabies vaccinations have been given to dog-owners who bring their pets to the identified vaccination centers, with owners only registering the dogs.

Dog registration, which becomes mandatory for vaccinations, allow the local authorities to keep track of the number of dogs and plan for the program implementation from these data. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)
Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz believes starting rabies-free declarations in Bohol should begin with islands and islets where dog population can be easily contained. Lapiz, who is the Provincial Veterinarian also pushes for Bohol dairy as a viable income generator for Boholanos. (foto by Ric Obedencio)

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