ILOILO – The Bureau of Animal Industry of the Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas will provide the provincial government with 16,344 vials of anti-rabies vaccines worth P9.8-million this week.
Provincial Veterinarian Silvino Teodosio Jr. said the vaccines are enough to immunize 70% of 252,000 (as of 2015) registered dog population in 43 local government units in Iloilo this summer.
The assistance from the national government comes after the completion of the Rabies-Free Visayas Islands Project of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2015.
“The vaccines are requested last year but it will only be delivered this month. The delay is due to the change in leadership of the regional office of the bureau,” said Teodosio.
Upon receipt of the vaccines, the Provincial Veterinary Office will schedule an immediate “high density one-time vaccination” in every 1,721 barangay until May.
“The goal is to vaccinate at least 70% of the dog population in three months’ time this summer. We cannot afford to miss this chance because this is the only period that our trained volunteer vaccinators are free,” he said.
Establishing herd immunity through vaccination is very important since dog bite cases are observed to increase. If dog vaccination remains low, the risk of rabies infection is high.
In 2016, for example, 28,919 dog bite cases were recorded and only 52% of the dog population was vaccinated. Of the dog bite cases, one died of rabies.
Liberating the province of rabies remains a challenge for the local government unit. But initial steps have been made in line this goal and among which was the declaration of the island barangays in Pan de Azucar and Botlog Islands as rabies-free zone in 2016.