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‘Rabies outbreak a cause for concern’

MANILA, Philippines — The outbreak of rabies in the country is a cause for concern, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

At a press conference during a three-day food security cluster communications workshop at the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija yesterday, DA Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. said a rabies outbreak has been declared in two areas.

Laurel said the disease affected not only dogs and cats but also cattle.

He did not identify the areas, saying “it can cause panic.”

A rabies outbreak was earlier declared in Boac and Buenavista towns in Marinduque.

The Department of Health (DOH) reported yesterday that rabies cases are also increasing in Ilocos region.

DOH-Ilocos regional director Paula Paz Sydiongco said six cases were recorded in the region from Jan. 1 to March 9. Only three cases were reported during the same period last year.

Six deaths due to rabies were also reported, a case fatality rate of 100 percent.

Sydiongco reminded the public to immediately seek medical attention if bitten by an animal.

Meanwhile, Laurel said he met with a group dealing with rabies and the Bureau of Animal Industry to address concerns about the disease.

Citing DA data, he said 22 million dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies.

“We need at least P110 million as each dose costs almost P500. We are asking additional funding from the Senate and House of Representatives, and hopefully it will be approved,” Laurel said.

DA Assistant Secretary for livestock Constante Palabrica said 20 percent of deaths caused by rabies in the provinces were unreported as the vaccination rate was below 50 percent.

DOH data showed that 84 people have died of rabies since January while at least one died of rabies every day last year.

Palabrica said the DA aims to incorporate the P200 million budget for rabies in its budget for next year.