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Rabies claims 50

Poor support by local government units (LGUs) in the implementation of the anti-rabies campaign in Bicol is among the factors that contribute to the continuous rise of rabies cases in the region, now with 50 reported deaths due to rabid dog bites since January this year, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
Dr. Alan Lucañas, DOH Regional Rabies Coordinator of the Bicol Regional Epidemiologist and Surveillance Unit (RESU), said that, so far, 50 people died in Bicol from January to September this year due to rabies, as against the recorded 58 people who died of rabies last year. Lucañas said that among the six Bicol provinces, Camarines Sur posted the highest number of rabies fatalities with 28; followed by Camarines Norte, with 9; Sorsogon, 5; Albay, 4; and Catanduanes and Masbate with two fatalities each.
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He disclosed, in a media forum in Legazpi City recently, that the surge in deaths due to rabies has made the Bicol region the number one region in rabies deaths nationwide. This is so, according to him, despite the existence of provincial, city and town ordinances, implementing the rabies eradication program. Lucañas attributed the rise on rabies cases to the poor implementation of the anti-rabies program by local government units, particularly at the barangay level. "There is a need for a strong political will to implement the rabies prevention program in the community," said Lucañas.

He also noted the increasing presence of stray dogs in the community and the absence of dog pounds in the provinces, cities and municipalities. Lucañas pointed to another factor that contributed to the surge of human deaths due to rabies: the expensive rabies vaccine that poor families could not afford. DOH reports disclosed that 76 percent of the fatalities due to rabies were not administered with at least one shot of the anti-rabies vaccine after they were bitten by rabid dogs, while only 7 percent were vaccinated but died just the same because of the severity of the case.

The Bicol Regonal Rabies Inter-Agency Task Force estimates the dog population in Bicol at around 395,139, of which some 69,345 or 38 percent were vaccinated since January this year. The DOH reported that dog bites in Bicol numbered 3,201 cases, with Camarines Sur accounting for 1,482 cases; Albay with 982 cases; Camarines Norte with 393 cases; Catanduanes with 153; Sorsogon, 109 cases; and Masbate with 50 dog bite cases.