Iloilo mulls rabies-free Pan de Azucar Island

ILOILO – The provincial government here is planning to seek the declaration of Pan de Azucar Island, one of its famous tourist destinations in Concepcion, as a rabies-free island by 2015.

The declaration will serve as a testament that the inhabitants and visitors of the island are protected from potentially serious health problems associated with the introduction and spread of rabies.

“If this happens, we expect a boom in island’s tourism,” said Dr. Darel B. Tabuada of the Provincial Veterinary Office.

Pan de Azucar Island is the home of 2,999 (2010 Census) people and the largest of the 16 outlying islands of Concepcion.

The island has three barangays – Taloto-an, Macatunao and Tambaliza – and it consists almost 19 percent of the town’s land area.

The island is known for Mount Pan de Azucar (Mount Sugarloaf) or Mount Manaphag, a 573-foot tall land mass and the steepest volcanic cone in the country resembling that of Rio de Janeiro.

Since the beginning of Rabies-Free Visayas Project of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2009, there has been no incident of rabies (both on humans and animals) in the island.

“So far this year, the island has no incident of rabies and we want to keep it that way,” Tabuada said.

Almost 70 percent of the dogs in the island have been vaccinated this month which enough to establish herd immunity among their population, according to PVO.

In Barangay Taloto-an, 162 dogs are vaccinated while 217 in Barangay Macatunao and 194 in Barangay Tambaliza.

As to the whole province, PVO vaccinated 112,545 dogs or 38.83 percent of the province’s dog population (289,856) as of August 2014.

Tabuada said that aside from Pan de Azucar, they are also eyeing a rabies-free Butlog Dako Island, also in Concepcion, and the whole town of New Lucena.

Although Butlog Dako is less populated compared to Pan de Azucar, the two have the similar history in so far as rabies is concerned.

The town of New Lucena in the 2nd District also maintained a zero-case reporting and it has the highest vaccination coverage in the whole province.

This year for instance, the town has 4,677 vaccinated dogs or 143.4 percent of their dog population (3,262).

In declaring a rabies-free zone or area, the Department of Health requires that there should be a local ordinance on the prevention and control of rabies.

There should also be a localized comprehensive rabies prevention, control and elimination program.

Most importantly, there should be no case of animal rabies and human rabies for two consecutive years.

Other requirements include the comprehensive rabies vaccination, adequate laboratory-based surveillance system, animal birth control program, availability of post-exposure treatment and adequate health education on responsible pet ownership. #2014News





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