Agri-10 encourages pet vaccination and responsible pet ownership to curb rabies cases in Northern Mindanao.


CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Aligned with the observance of Rabies Awareness Month, the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Office 10 through its Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RADDL) urges the public to adopt responsible pet ownership practices as part of its strategy for rabies eradication in the region.

DA-10 Regional Executive Director Carlene C. Collado said that the annual observance of Rabies Awareness Month in March sheds light on the coordinated efforts of the Department and its partners in the national government, and in the provincial, city, and municipal local government units (LGUs) to decrease and eliminate rabies cases in Northern Mindanao through rabies testing, mass vaccination, providing spaying and neutering services, and conducting information education campaigns.

Through this cooperation, DA-10 rabies coordinator Oryza Kristy N. Bisahan-Baylo, DVM said, pet owners are seen to become more capable and proactive in ensuring the health of their animals, as well as the safety of their communities in line with the observance’s recurring theme: “Rabies-free na Pusa’t Aso, Kaligtasan ng Pamilyang Pilipino”.

“The services offered under the [National Rabies Prevention and Control Program] are now embedded into the programs of our local government units (LGUs), and we hope that people will proactively avail of these for the health and safety of our pets and their owners,” Dr. Baylo said.

Rabies is among the most deadly animal diseases responsible for claiming the lives of around 250 Filipinos each year.

The virus is transmitted when an infected animal’s saliva enters the skin of a person or another animal through a scratch or bite wound.

In humans, the rabies virus spreads from the bite wound to the peripheral nerves, and spinal cord and brain, and causes the victim to exhibit headache, fever, loss of appetite and other flu-like symptoms that will later progress to excessive salivation, light sensitivity, hydrophobia, and may have aggression. While it is 100 percent fatal, the virus is 100% preventable through vaccination.

According to Dr. Baylo, the provincial, city, and municipal veterinary offices in Region 10 are primarily responsible for conducting anti-rabies vaccinations in their respective coverage areas, which the RADDL complements in its conduct of rabies examination and information and education campaigns.

Through its Rabies Elimination and Eradication Program, the Department extends rabies examination free-of-charge and encourages LGUs to submit samples to monitor the incidence in the five provinces of region 10, namely: Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Camiguin.

Samples encouraged for submission and testing are those from animals, commonly but not limited to dogs and cats, who have exhibited rabies symptoms.

To preserve the specimen’s viability for testing, the RADDL advised following a triple packaging system where the head of the animal is placed inside a leak-proof plastic bag (primary container), placed inside another plastic bag with ice or coolant (second container), and contained inside a sealed, shock-proof, water-tight styrofoam box or cooler (third container).

According to Dr. Baylo, samples are fit for testing for up to 6 to 12 hours from death and remain viable for as long as they are kept in frozen condition.
In 2023, the DA-RADDL recorded around 74 rabies cases in Region 10, to which she reiterated the importance of the combined commitment of the government and the public.

“Anti-rabies vaccination is not the only control measure we have for rabies. We also must take responsibility for the needs of our pets and consider their safety and welfare,” Baylo said.

The DA is among the lead implementing agencies of R.A. No. 9482, otherwise known as the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007, of which it is tasked to oversee the implementation of the National Rabies Prevention and Control Program (NRPCP) in coordination with other government agencies such as the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry, Department of Health, LGUs, and other stakeholders. # (GDA)