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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Rise in animal bite cases drains anti-rabies vaccines in Western Visayas

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The supply of anti-rabies vaccines for humans is rapidly diminishing across 109 designated Animal Bite Centers (ABCs) in Western Visayas, including those in district hospitals and rural health units, driven by an alarming rise in animal bite cases in the region.

According to the Department of Health (DOH) Western Visayas Center for Health and Development, animal bite cases have surged to 53,919.

Dr. Jocelyn Te, head of the Infectious Disease Unit at DOH Western Visayas, expressed uncertainty about the arrival of new vaccine supplies from the Central Office.

“We are actively seeking solutions to address the dwindling vaccine supply in several ABCs across Western Visayas,” Dr. Te stated.

The increasing public awareness and information dissemination have led to a higher number of people visiting ABCs for vaccination.

Dr. Te explained that the anti-rabies vaccines received this year were purchased in 2023, but they have already been exhausted due to the high demand. The allocation of vaccines is based on the accomplishment reports from treatment centers, she added.

Notably, the national government budget no longer includes funds for purchasing anti-rabies vaccines, which has compounded the issue.

Dr. Te urged local government units (LGUs) to allocate funds to purchase vaccines for their treatment centers.

Among the most frequented ABCs is the Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City, which has a constant influx of patients.

The DOH’s reported rabies cases reveal that Iloilo and Capiz have the highest numbers, with two cases each, followed by Aklan, Antique, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, and Iloilo City, each with one case.

The most affected age groups are 21 to 30 years old and 51 to 60 years old.

Rabies, a fatal viral infection, is primarily transmitted through bites or scratches from infected animals such as dogs and cats.

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