Rabies vaccine still in short supply

Published March 5, 2019, 4:54 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Analou De Vera

The Department of Health (DOH) said there is still a global shortage in human rabies vaccine.

“The worldwide shortage in anti-rabies vaccines for humans remains. It is expected to normalize only in 2020,” said Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo in an interview.

Because of the shortage, the health department’s supply of human anti-rabies vaccine has dropped by half since last year.

“All of a sudden, we have a 50 percent gap,” said Domingo.

The shortage came after GlaxoSmithKline, the main supplier of human anti-rabies vaccine globally, discovered that their vaccines manufactured in China were “contaminated.”

DOH intensified its campaign on animal vaccination program to help prevent the spread of rabies.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday urged the public to be responsible pet owners.

Duque said rabies “is considered a public health problem as it is one of the most acutely fatal infection.”

Rabies is said to be responsible for the deaths of at least 200 Filipinos each year, and 99 percent of all rabies transmissions are from dogs, DOH noted.

Data from DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau showed there were 21 rabies cases nationwide from Jan. 1 to Feb. 16, 2019.

“Prevention is key in eliminating the rabies disease. Ninety-nine percent of all rabies transmissions to humans are from dogs. Be a responsible pet owner and vaccinate your pets. This is the most cost-effective strategy to prevent rabies,” said Duque.

Rabies is spread to people from the saliva of an infected animal. It is usually transmitted through bite. Some of its symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, agitation, anxiety, confusion, hyperactivity, difficulty swallowing and excessive salivation.