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Rabies cases rise during summer

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Health officials have called on the public to act swiftly and observe proper steps in dealing with animal bites as rabies cases usually rise during summer.

Rabies is a viral disease transmitted to humans through the bites or even scratches of rabid animals, such as cats and dogs. Once rabies infection sets in, death is inevitable.

San Lazaro Hospital Medical Specialist IV Ferdinand de Guzman said animal bite cases increase during the months of March, April, and May when the country experience hot weather, one of the factors that make animals irritable.

“Here at San Lazaro (Hospital), we record 1,000 animal bite cases everyday during summer,” de Guzman said.

Animals’ tendency to bite has something to do with the weather.

He explained that dogs, like humans, get irritated when they feel the heat and thirst, thus it is important to make drinking water easily accessible to them and give them a bath as necessary as possible.

“Kapag nakalimutan nating bigyan ng inumin ang aso, pareho natin, irritable po iyan, mangangagat po iyan,” he said.

Once bitten by an animal, a person must immediately wash the affected area with water and soap to clear the skin of the animal’s saliva, according to De Guzman.

“Kapag may sugat po, just wash the affected area with soap and water para matanggal po ang virus na nasa laway na nagkaroon ng contact sa katawan. We prefer to use laundry soap kasi matapang po ito. Huwag nang kuskusin,” he added.

He is also discouraging the public from doing old practices in treating animal bites such as rubbing fresh garlic and papaya on bite sites.

“Dagta o katas ng papaya can burn the skin,” he warned.

Inducing bite wounds to bleed is also not advisable since this may only push the virus deeper into the flesh, de Guzman further said.

Aside from keeping the dogs cool, owners should have their pets immunized.

De Guzman urged barangay officials to hold anti-rabies vaccination programs in their respective communities.

“This summer, they should start bakuna ng mga hayop programs. Free po ang vaccine if they can request from the Bureau of Animal Industry,” he said.

The doctor reminded the public that animal bites should not be ignored because it needs immediate action.

“Marami pong bata ang nakakagat pero ang karaniwang nagkaka-rabies ay older patients. Kasi kapag younger (patients) po, dinadala kaagad ng magulang sa treatment centers. But older people, like me, tend to disregard exposure,” he noted. (CHARINA CLARISSE L. ECHALUCE)