Cebu City rabies cases up by 50%

CEBU. Cebu City Veterinarian Dr. Alice Utlang answers questions during a news forum Tuesday, July 2, 2024.
CEBU. Cebu City Veterinarian Dr. Alice Utlang answers questions during a news forum Tuesday, July 2, 2024.Photo by Kenneth King Gonzales, UP Cebu intern

THE number of rabies cases in Cebu City has increased by around 50 percent, a health official said Tuesday, July 2, 2024.

Cebu City Veterinarian Dr. Alice Utlang said in a news forum Tuesday that from the seven cases reported in June 2023, there were 13 cases reported in June 2024.

She called for public responsibility in terms of animal ownership and said one of the primary causes of the spike was the failure to reach the target of 80 percent canine vaccination in the barangays of Cebu City.

To date, approximately only 50 percent of the roughly 170,000 dogs in Cebu City have been vaccinated.

Utlang said there are indeed barangays that have reached the 80 percent target, and as a result, have had no cases of rabies.

But she stressed that it is not how small or big the barangay is, but the achieving of the 80 percent target in the village that is of most priority and importance.

In relation to such, she said impounding does not solve the problem on rabies cases.

“Impounding doesn’t solve the problem. Taas gani impounding, mosaka sad ang atoang cases,” she said.

She added that under her administration, impounding has been stopped, except for those dogs that are truly dire in appearance and who are usually victims of animal abuse.

Utlang also stressed that “part of rabies control is population control.”

One of the measures to address such is a spay-and-neuter drive, which is scheduled on October 10-12, 2024 and to be hosted by Biyaya Animal Care as part of its pay-it-forward initiative.

Utlang urged the public, especially those who are pocket-tight, to avail themselves of the spay-and-neuter drive, which is targeted to attend to around 3,000 to 5,000 dogs and cats in Cebu City.

The city veterinarian also called on the public, specifically animal owners, to take responsibility for their animals for the welfare and health of Cebuano canine and human alike.

“Ninety-eight percent to 99 percent of the dogs in the streets are owned, pero gipasagdan lang sa mga iresponsableng amo, gipasuroy. Naa koy principle ba. We need to work smarter, not harder,” Utlang said. (Ryan Monungolh, Holy Name University intern)

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