Fewer rabies vaccines available for Cebu City
(The Freeman) - March 23, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Pet owners in Cebu City will have to make do with fewer available doses of rabies vaccines this year following budget cuts at the Bureau of Animal Industry that have reduced the doses to 20,000 from 150,000 in 2018.

Cebu City, for the past three years, has remained in the top 10 areas in the country with the most number of rabies cases.

Dr. Alice Utlang, head of the City Hall’s Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF), said the solution to the rising number of rabies cases in the city is to vaccinate at least 80 percent of the dog’s population.

Utlang said that in 2018, the number of cases reduced since DVMF was able to vaccinate more than 120,000 from the 150,000 vaccines provided by the BAI.

However, for 2019, Utlang said, BIA reduced its vaccine allocation to 20,000 doses.

“Ang ilang (BIA) budget sa bakuna kay giubsan man. Instead unta nga ang pangayuon gihapon nato (DVMF) kay 150,000 doses or bisag 50 percent [which is] 75,000 doses, ang ilang mahatag nato kay 20,000 ra,” Utlang said.

Utlang revealed there are still 30,000 doses of rabies vaccines left from last year and another 12,000 to be funded by the city government. She added that the vaccines’ immunity lasts for three years.

Due to the limited number of vaccines, Utlang said her office will strengthen the “Oplan Red” program, where barangays are classified into high-risk, medium-risk and low-risk. High-risk barangays, or those areas that experience rabies cases every year, will be prioritized.

High-risk areas include Guadalupe, Calunasan, Lahug, Punta Princesa, Inayawan, Bulacao, Mabolo, Basak San Nicolas, and Pahina San Nicolas.

DVMF provides free vaccinations in barangays, house-to-house vaccinations, information education campaigns and even consultations for all dog and pet owners.

“Ang akong awhag sa mga naay buhi nga iro, mo-avail gyud sila sa atong house-to-house nga vaccinations. Ang pinakabarato nga pag-control sa sakit nga rabies, pinaagi gyud sa pagpabakuna sa iro. Ang gasto sa pagbakuna sa iro mas cheap kaysa sa pagbakuna sa tawo,” said Utlang.

Under an existing city ordinance, pet owners are required to vaccinate their pets, or else they will face a fine of P2,000.

Data showed that Cebu City ranked 8th in terms of rabies cases in 2018. This is a good progress, though, considering that the city ranked second in 2017 and fifth in 2016.

Utlang said they will award and recognize barangays considered low-risk or rabies-free barangays.

In Cebu City, 36 barangays have been rabies-free for six to 10 years; two barangays for less than six years.

City Health Department’s Animal Bite Treatment Center recorded 12,124 (8 575 dog bites, 3,544 cat bites, and five from other animals) last year.

For this year, DVMF has so far recorded only one case of rabies.

Utlang said the giving of rabies vaccinations will only last until July. —/JMD (FREEMAN)

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