DOH reports 5% drop in rabies cases in first half of 2022

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The Department of Health says 157 deaths caused by rabies were recorded in the country from January 1 to June 25 this year — 5% lower than reported fatalities for the same period in 2021.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 13) — The country recorded 157 deaths caused by rabies from January 1 to June 25 this year, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.

Citing National Rabies Data, it noted that the number is 5% lower compared to the 165 reported deaths nationwide during the same period in 2021.

Rabies is a human infection acquired through bites or scratches from an infected animal, like dogs and cats.

It can spread when an infected substance, typically saliva, comes into touch with a victim's fresh wounds, according to the DOH. It can also spread through organ transplants or through the inhalation of virus-containing spray, however this is extremely uncommon.

DOH said rabies has a 100% fatality rate. The World Health Organization said it is 100% preventable through vaccination and timely immunization after exposure.

"In more recent years, there have been a number of rabies cases who remained alive, but these are quite rare," DOH explained.

The regions that logged the most cases from January 1 to June 22 are Region III with 25 deaths, followed by Calabarzon with 21, Region VI with 17, and Region XI with 16 rabies-related deaths.

Of the total number of cases, the DOH said 119 were not inoculated with rabies immunoglobulin and/or rabies vaccine.

Category III is the highest exposure history among the rabies cases tallied, comprising 112 of the infected, the department said.

The DOH defined Category III as "single or multiple transdermal bites or scratches, licks on broken skin, contamination of mucous membrane with saliva, and suspect contacts with bats."

Most of the cases, or 131, got rabies from dog bites.

Seventy-seven biting animals of the 157 reported cases were domesticated, 53 of them pets unvaccinated for rabies.

The DOH said it is coordinating with Department of Agriculture, local governments, and veterinarians in vaccinating and preventing the spread of the virus among animals, which can in turn infect humans.