The prolong dry spell or El Niño phenomenon in the country does not only affect the farmers and animal tenders but also caused to increase rabies cases among humans, health department said Friday.

Doctor Francisco Alivio, rabies coordinator of the Department of Health (DOH) in Davao Region, said rabies cases on human rises every summer vacation because people tend to go out of their homes more often.

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Cases of rabies in children have also increased compared to last years, Alivio said. Children are most vulnerable to rabies because they often go outside the house during summer, he added.

"They are the ones out and playing on the streets so sila yung madaling mapuntahan ng mga aso sa kalye at hindi agad malalaman na yung aso pala ay may rabies," he said.

Alivio said immunization against rabies for both dogs and human are necessary.

"Rabies occurrence in dogs is at five cases per million population. In the country there are around 300 to 500 cases of rabies among dogs on the last annual data," he said.

Alivio added: "The Department of Agriculture gives immunization of dogs for free. There is a supply of vaccines pero hindi lang nadidistribute ng maayos. But definitely we have vaccines available. It will be for free on the first two shots.”

Alivio has also asked the public to be equipped with basic knowledge of first aid whenever they encounter a rabies-infected dog bite.

"What to do when you are bitten by a dog, or to any injury whether it be deep or shallow, the person should clean the wound with water and soap. Any soap will do but make sure the water is clean to prevent infection. Afterwards you should go to the hospital, get a doctor and get the wound tended to," Alivio said.

Alivio discouraged the public in going to quack doctors tending to animal bites.

"The injured person should go directly to a doctor who is also liable for what he or she will be doing to the patient than going to quacks,” he said.

March is declared as Rabies Month in the country, Alivio said. ( Jade C. Zaldivar)