Most dog owners in the country still lack proper knowledge about rabies.
This is the observation of Rey del Napoles, program manager of Humane Society International-Philippines, when he visits one community after another to vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies.
“Hindi po totoo ang pinaniniwalaan ng ilan nating kababayan na nakukuha ang rabies sa pagkain o sa hangin. (The belief of some of our countrymen is not true na that rabies is acquired through food or air.) We have to be clear also (that) dogs and cats are born with rabies, that is a common myth,” del Napoles told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Adoracion Dare, resident of District 1 in Quezon City, told PNA that she once had a pet dog which acquired rabies. “Hindi ko sigurado kung saan nakuha ng aso namin iyon. Pinapalabas lang naman iyon para tumae tapos bumabalik din dito sa bahay (I’m not sure where our dog got it. We let it go out to poop then it comes back home),” she said.
Dare added that she noticed that her dog suddenly lost appetite and started attacking other members of the family.
“Sa akin mabait siya pero sa iba para siya nabaliw na umaatake. Wala naman akong napansin sa kanyang sugat o anuman kaya ihiniwalay namin siya sa isa pa naming aso at hinyaan na lang namin din siyang mamatay dahil hindi na nga kumakain (The dog is good to me but it attacks others like crazy. I did not notice any wound on it or whatever so we separated it from other dogs. We just let it die because it doesn’t eat anymore),” she said.
Del Napoles explained that rabies is acquired by dogs through direct transmission.
“Nakukuha po ito ma’am sa kagat ng kapwa aso na may rabies (This is acquired through the bite of another dog with rabies),” he said.
He said a dog infected with rabies dies within three weeks. If the dog is pregnant during the infection, he said the puppies inside its womb won’t survive as well.
“Mananamlay ang aso, classic na may sakit, hindi makakain (The dog is indisposed — like the classic symptom of sickness, it won’t eat) later on the dog will attack anything that moves for example falling leaf, moving curtain, rolling vehicle, he’s starting to become vicious. It will enter to next stage — paralytic, where it can’t swallow its saliva and eventually dies,” he said.
Del Napoles advised dog owners to keep themselves from being bitten by their infected dogs because they would suffer the same fate as their dogs.
“Symptoms are the same as the dog’s, the person is scared of air and water because the nerve endings become sensitive, it’s painful, then yung tao hirap lumunok, nangangagat at umaatake (the person has difficulty swallowing, bites, attacks) then eventually he will die. While a rabies-stricken dog can no longer be saved, del Napoles said there are many things which dog owners can do to keep their pets from contacting rabies.
“Una sa lahat dapat may bakuna, tapos siguraduhing updated ang bakuna. Dapat din iwasang gumala-gala sa kalye ang alaga para hindi siya makagat ng ibang aso na may rabies. At siyempre, ang maayos na pag-aalaga sa aso ay makakatulong (First of all, it must be vaccinated, then ensure that the vaccination is updated. Keep it from roaming on the streets to avoid your pet from being bitten by other dogs with rabies.
Also, proper dog care could help), he said. Philippines is not yet declared rabies-free thus, dogs nationwide must be vaccinated yearly. Rabies vaccines are free at baranggay (community) halls and city veterinary offices.
“Ang gobyerno ay nagbibigay ng libreng bakuna, walang rason para hindi sila makakuha nito dahil ang kailangan nalang nila malaman ay kung saan at kailan sila pwedeng kumuha ng libreng bakuna. Kung sa private naman PHP300 lang iyan, parang fast-food meal lang ang presyo (The government provides free vaccines, there’s no reason for dog-owners not to have them because they simply need to know where and when to get them. In private clinics that’s only 300 pesos, it’s like a fast food meal price only),” del Napoles said.
Del Napoles added that cats are also susceptible to rabies but based on studies, only 2 percent of rabies cases come from them.
“So small fraction lang iyon. Ang pusa na may rabies ay nagtatago hindi kagaya ng aso na nababaliw at ang pusang naapektuhan ng rabies ay hind umaatake (That’s a small fraction. A cat with rabies hides unlike dogs which go crazy and cats infected with rabies don’t attack),” he said. (PNA)