Pangasinan now ranks No. 1 nationwide in number of rabies incidence

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — The Philippines now ranks 10th in the world with the most number of rabies cases, with Pangasinan emerging as No. 1 in the entire country in 2015 from No. 4 in 2014.

This was gathered during the Health Leaders Summit in Rabies Prevention and Control today at Sison Auditorium which was graced by Governor Amado Espino III.

Espino called on all pet owners in the province to cooperate with the government in its efforts to reduce and eradicate incidence of rabies.

Fourth District Board Member Jeremy Agerico Rosario, chair of the committee on health of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), considers as very alarming statistics showing that the province of Pangasinan posted the most number of rabies deaths nationwide in 2015 at 19.

From January to September 28 this year, at least 14 deaths were already recorded with three more months to go before the year ends.

Rosario, a doctor of medicine, noted that the present situation should serve as a challenge to each Pangasinense to do his part in reducing and eradicating the menace, asserting the need to heighten information dissemination in order to raise awareness on what responsible pet ownership is all about.

Full enforcement of laws with the cooperation of other line agencies like the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Education must be implemented, he added.

Rosario noted that despite the enactment of Republic Act 9482 otherwise known as Responsible Pet Ownership Act, only 34 out of 47 Local Government Units in Pangasinan have existing local ordinance seeking the prevention and control of rabies in their respective localities.

Meanwhile, Irene Madonna Almeida, program coordinator of the Department of Health Region I Infectious Diseases Program, said data shows there were 25 human deaths in the region in 2015. The province of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte had zero fatality while Pangasinan recorded 19 and La Union, 6.

Provincial Health Officer Anna Ma. Teresa De Guzman attributed the human death cases in Pangasinan to non-access to Animal Bite Centers or lack of awareness among people as a majority still believes in resorting to quack medicine.

Other possible reasons cases of rabies in Pangasinan is high, De Guzman said, was lack of vaccine in the previous years.

De Guzman disclosed that this year, the PHO manages the vaccination so that it can monitor the cases and find solutions to problems on controlling the rabies virus.

At the same time, she said that Pangasinan has 16 animal bite centers, most of which are located in hospitals being run by the provincial government. Thus, she encouraged patients bitten by rabid dogs to avail of free vaccinations of four doses.

On the other hand, Dr. Eric Jose Perez encouraged all dog owners to have their male pets castrated. In this way, he said, dog population can be controlled.

Perez revealed that Pangasinan has a total dog population of 381,351. Out of this, his office is targeting at least 70 percent of the total dog population to be vaccinated or a total of 266,946 canines. So far, at least 66,821 dogs have been vaccinated.

In terms of human rabies cases in Pangasinan this year, the DOH regional office has posted 50 posie cases with human deaths recorded in the following towns and cities: Lingayen, 6; San Fabian, 5; San Carlos, 5 and Dagupan, 4.

A Pledge of Commitment whose text was read by Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Z. Calimlim, Jr. was signed by the regional and provincial officials as well as the participants from various local health zones who attended the summit. PNA-northboundasia.com