Philippines reports 55 rabies deaths in first two months of 2023


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The Office of Epidemiology of the Philippine Department of Health reported 55 cases/deaths of human rabies as of February 25 this year.


This is an 8 per cent increase in cases/deaths compared to the same period in 2022 (51).

Only three of the country’s 17 districts have not reported a case of rabies this year so far. Central Luzon (11) and Calabarzon (9) saw the most cases of rabies.

Rabies is an acute viral infection that is transmitted to humans or other mammals usually through saliva from the bite of an infected animal. It is also rarely transmitted through breaks in the skin or contact with mucous membranes.

According to the Infectious Disease Control Handbook, all mammals are susceptible to rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, coyotes and cats are likely suspects. Other animals such as otters and ferrets are also at high risk. Mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, ferrets, and opossums are rarely infected.

At first, as in many diseases, the symptoms of rabies are non-specific. Fever, headache and malaise. This may last several days. There may be some pain and discomfort at the site of the sting. Symptoms then progress to more severe: confusion, delirium, abnormal behavior, and hallucinations. If it gets this far, the disease is 100% fatal.

If exposedFirst, clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water for 5-10 minutes. This will help reduce the chance of developing another bacterial infection and some studies show that it can reduce the likelihood of developing rabies.

Next, get a good description of the animal in order to monitor the animal so it can be picked up for quarantine or rabies testing.

Go see your family doctor or the emergency room. Although it is not technically a medical emergency, it is important to seek medical attention quickly so that appropriate treatment is given at the right time. If you must shoot or otherwise kill the animal, be careful not to damage the head. The brain will be required to be tested for rabies.

Your doctor will assess the type of exposure (bite, scratch) and the type of animal you were in contact with. If post-exposure treatment is required – post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) consists of a dose of human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) and a rabies vaccine series.

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