HEALTH AND WELLNESS
It's never too late to paws and breathe.
But humans are not the only victims. Animals, dogs in particular, are also victims of the horrific clinical symptoms, but perhaps the most disturbing consequence is the estimated tens of millions of dogs culled, often inhumanely, in misguided attempts to control the disease.
THE city of Cagayan de Oro (CDO) registered 32 positive animal rabies cases in 2014, the highest in the country, based on the annual situation report by the Bureau of Animal Industry.
The capital city of Misamis Oriental has a high history of rabies samples since 2009. It almost reached 40 cases in 2010.
The bureau revealed its findings during the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), Communicating Health Advocacy Mentorship Program (CHAMP) in Tagaytay. The report included a statement from CDO city veterinarian Dr. Perla T. Asis who said budgetary constraints have kept them from vaccinating more dogs.
With P700,000 budget in 2013, the city managed to vaccinate against rabies only 55 percent of its total dog population, below their target of 80 percent.
Rabies is an acute infection of the central nervous system caused by the rabies virus. It affects mammals like dogs, cats, foxes, bats and humans. When humans are bitten, scratched or licked over their broken skin by an infected animal, the virus in the saliva of the infected animal enters the human body through the wound and travels through nerves to the brain, leading to encephalitis.
The incubation period of rabies may last for a few days to several years, but it is usually three to eight weeks. The initial symptoms may be nonspecific flu-like symptoms such as malaise, fever, or headache, which may last for days. There may be numbness and tingling around the site of the wound. These are followed after a few days by anxiety, confusion, spasm of swallowing muscles, paralysis, coma and death.
LACK OF REPORTS
The first global survey of rabies reporting systems, published recently, has uncovered a shocking lack of preparedness against this deadly disease across Africa and Asia.
GARC's survey that covered 91 countries showed that across Africa and Asia, where rabies kills the most people, most reporting systems were often ineffective. Overall, 41 percent of the population covered by the survey – around 2.5 billion people – live in countries where there is no system, or an ineffective rabies reporting system.
“Because most rabies endemic countries don’t collect accurate data on the number of people dying from the virus, they fail to adequately invest in its control. An appreciation of the scale of the problem can help countries prioritize control of this disease.” says lead author of the paper, Dr. Louise Taylor, a biologist with the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.
The lack of accurate reporting leaves authorities with only estimates of the global human and animal toll of rabies. The virus is estimated to kill around 70,000 people every year, almost all of whom die through a lack of access to lifesaving medical treatment. These estimates suggest at least 95 percent are infected as a result of a bite from a rabid dog.
Humans are not the only victims. Animals, dogs in particular, are also victims of the horrific clinical symptoms, but perhaps the most disturbing consequence is the estimated tens of millions of dogs culled, often inhumanely, in misguided attempts to control the disease.
All of these deaths can be prevented with effective rabies vaccination programs. Reporting systems are fundamental to these programs, to monitor and assess the success of prevention efforts.
The survey found that while the reporting of human rabies cases is a legal requirement in many countries, the systems to do this vary enormously and are often poorly enforced. Accurate data is just not being produced for most countries where rabies is common.
The survey also identifies a number of reasons for this, including rabies not being a health priority, poor training of medical staff, a lack of resources to implement reporting, and the problem that many poor victims die without ever accessing the health system.
* Veterinarians concerned about rising pet obesity cases