Iloilo faces rabies crisis as vaccine supply runs out amid surge in animal bites

Reymund Titong

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Iloilo faces rabies crisis as vaccine supply runs out amid surge in animal bites


Iloilo provincial health officials log 14,632 cases of dog and cat bites, with four deaths, in the first quarter of 2024 alone

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Iloilo province is struggling with a public health crisis as saw its supply of anti-rabies vaccines has run out amid a surge in animal bite cases, which have reached five-digit figures.

Dr. Rodney Labis, head of the Iloilo Provincial Health Office’s (IPHO) services division, confirmed the rising trend and depletion of the provincial government’s anti-rabies vaccines as a result.

Rabies is an infection that usually happens after a bite or scratch from an infected animal. It can also spread if infected saliva comes into contact with an open wound.

Iloilo-based broadcaster DYRI-Radio Mindanao Network reported that the health office has set aside P3.5 million more for vaccines, but Labis said the amount might not be enough given the increasing number of animal bite cases.

The IPHO recorded 14,632 cases of dog and cat bites in the first quarter of 2024 alone, with four fatalities reported from the towns of Pototan, Dumangas, and Alimodian. 

In 2023, rabies cases in the province reached 72,805, with five fatalities reported in the towns of Guimbal, Carles, Mina, and New Lucena.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. announced plans to purchase more anti-rabies vaccines to curb the increasing number of animal bites as part of the capitol’s goal to make the province rabies-free by 2030. 

Out of 324,764 dogs registered in the province, 233,830 or 72% had been vaccinated against rabies, surpassing the capitol’s initial target of 70% as of April 30, according to the Iloilo Provincial Veterinarian’s Office (IPVO).

Labis said the IPHO was collaborating with hospitals and all 43 local governments in the province, urging them to contribute and buy anti-rabies vaccines to address the crisis.

The provincial government has urged residents to be responsible pet owners, ensure their pets are vaccinated, and report any stray or unvaccinated animals. –

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