A total of 33,823 clients were catered to in seven Animal Bite Treatment Centers (ABTCs) in 2023, the majority of whom suffered wounds or scratches and were considered to be at high risk of rabies, an official said.

“Last year we were able to cater to 33,823, mao nani sa seven animal bite centers sa Davao City. Mostly bites or scratches. Out of more than 33,000, more than half, or 18,571 are Category III, ibig sabihin they need immunoglobulins kay sila ang high risk nga magkaroon og rabies if ever rabid ang nakapaak (Last year we were able to cater to 33, 283 patients in the seven animal bite treatment centers in Davao City. The cases are mostly bites and scratches. Out of the more than 33,000, more than half, or 18,571 are Category III cases, meaning they needed immunoglobulins because they were at high risk of contracting rabies if ever the animal [that bit or scratched them] was rabid), ” City Health Office Medical Officer IV- Dr. Annaliza Malubay said in a recent interview with the City Information Office.

Of the number, 17, 957 cases were dog bites, the majority of which were done by pets.

She said that they also check the wound category, the location of the wound, how big the wound is, and the number of wounds. Category III are bites or scratches in “highly innervated areas” or areas with nerves such as the head, neck, hand (both in front and the back), and feet.

“Even if it is non-innervated areas as long as lalom og daghan, kana considered na as Category III or kung naa ka’y daan samad unya gipatilapan nimo sa imong pet, what if naa to siyay rabies (Even if these were in non-innervated areas as long as the wound is deep, it is already considered Category III or if there is an open wound and licked by an animal),” Malubay said, adding that their centers provide and have enough stock of anti-rabies vaccine shots for Category III and Category II (lower risk).

The ABTCs provide also immunoglobulins or antibodies to those who are assessed to have Category III wounds as a form of immediate protection from rabies.

She also warned the 10.4 percent or 3,504 clients who were tagged as non-completers of the anti-rabies vaccine. The anti-rabies vaccine only offers protection after the third shot.

She advised them to complete their vaccination because it may cause vaccine non-effectivity. The added benefit of complete vaccination is that when the patients are bitten again they don’t need to avail of the whole three-dose vaccine course. Instead, a booster shot would suffice.

“Wala nila gi-complete because ang pets nila after 14 days ok ra, and number two busy kaayo sila. We reminded them that once they have started they have to complete their vaccine (Some did not complete it because they said their pets remained okay after 14 days, and the number two reason is that they are quite busy. We reminded them that once you have started you have to complete your vaccine),” she said.

She said that rabies should not be taken lightly because once the symptoms set in, death is to be expected.

Malubay said in Davao City, three victims died from rabies in 2023.

However, rabies can be prevented.

She said the best prevention against rabies is to have pets vaccinated and become responsible pet owners. As first aid, washing the wounded area with soap and water is also advised.

Malubay also advised Dabawenyos to visit the ABTCs in Magallanes, Toril, Tugbok, Marilog, Calinan, Sasa, Paquibato and Southern Philippines Medical Center in case of a bite or scratch to avail of anti-rabies injections for free. The centers also offer consultations free of charge. CIO