Cebu islands targeted for declaration as rabies-free

By Minerva Newman

CEBU CITY – The Cebu Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) is in the process of declaring the islands of Bantayan and Zaragosa as rabies-free this year, a status earned by Camotes and Malapascua islands in 2011.

Pet owners bring their animals at the PSPCA (Philippine Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) along Recto Ave., in Manila to get them vaccinated against rabies and free consultation as the country celebrates World Animal Day on October 4, 2018. (Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN)) (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Cebu Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Mary Ann Gabona said Bantayan and Zaragosa are from the mainland, making it easier to monitor whether or not dogs and cats are coming in or out of the islands.

Gabona said for an area to be declared as rabies free, it must have no reported rabies cases in a span of three years.

A preliminary evaluation is made where 80 percent of vaccination coverage in a similar timeframe is sought after.

A sample of a dog’s head from subject area is then submitted for examination for further confirmation, Gabona bared.

Aside from rabies vaccinations, the province also hands out dog-registration books, dog tags and collars, and vaccination tags.

Gabona said that as of 2018, 81percent of dogs in Cebu had been vaccinated.

Cebu City Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF) head Dr. Alice Utlang said that as of last February, 12,698 dogs in Cebu City received anti-rabies shots.

In 2017 Cebu City was ranked no. 2 in the number of rabies cases, but it moved to 8th place last year, Utlang said.

Vaccinations were carried out in nine barangays in the city that were declared as high-risk for rabies: Guadalupe, Kalunasan, Lahug, Punta Prinscesa, Bulacao, Inayawan, Mabolo, Basak San Nicolas, and Pahina San Nicolas.

Utlang stressed the importance of educating the people on the effects of rabies. This program has three key points:

• Information Campaign where they reiterate that rabies is preventable.
• Responsible Pet Ownership where the DVMF reminds the public that dogs should be controlled by its owners, and should be vaccinated
• Dog Population Control, where unkempt dogs are ligated. (With reports from Brandon Ormega, USC intern)