City falls short of dog vax goal; rabies cases rise

City falls short of dog vax goal; rabies cases rise
SunStar Cebu City

THE Cebu City Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF) has fallen short of its goal to vaccinate 80 percent of dogs in each barangay.

According to DVMF head Alice Utlang, this shortfall is the main factor contributing to the increase in rabies cases in Cebu City.

As of June 2024, the city has recorded 17 rabies cases, marking a significant rise from the seven cases reported in the same period last year. The department logged a total of 17 cases in 2023.

“Taas ang kaso because wa nato na hit ang 80 percent na population sa angay bakunahan. Sa ato karon, naa pa ta sa 50 percent sa 170,000 population sa atong mga iro,” she told reporters during a media forum on Tuesday, July 2, 2024.

(The cases are high because we did not reach the vaccination of the 80 percent target population. Currently, we only hit about 50 percent of the 170,000 dog population.)

The city has achieved only 60 percent of its target for vaccinating dogs in every barangay in the first six months of the year.

Utlang noted that among the factors contributing to the vaccination backlog are the shortage of vaccinators and the occasional impounding of vaccinated dogs, intended to be the first line of defense against rabies.

“When I learned about the situation last year, I initiated training for vaccinators in each barangay. All 80 barangays now have trained vaccinators. We conducted the training because we had very few vaccinators before,” she said in Cebuano.

“We had to build the capacity of the barangays to assist with vaccination,” she added.

Among the 80 barangays in the city, only barangays Talamban, San Antonio and Sta. Cruz have achieved the 80 percent target population for anti-rabies vaccination.

Barangay Lahug leads with four recorded rabies cases among Cebu City’s barangays.

Other barangays reporting animal rabies cases include Cogon Ramos, Basak Pardo, Tisa, Mabolo, Bulacao, Carreta, Tinago, Luz, Ermita, Guadalupe, Zapatera and Capitol Site.

To mitigate the rise in rabies cases, Utlang encourages pet owners to be more responsible in ensuring their dogs are vaccinated.

She emphasized that without responsible ownership, dogs will continue to roam the streets.

Owners whose dogs are positive for rabies will face a fine of P5,000 under Section 29 of City Ordinance 2526. The ordinance also imposes a P2,000 fine on pet owners who fail or refuse to register and immunize their dogs against rabies.

Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system and, to date, has no known cure. / DPC

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