Published On: Tue, Mar 4th, 2014

Philippines: Health officials report three human rabies deaths in Surigao City this year

The Surigao City Health Office has reported three human rabies deaths since the beginning of the year, according to a Philippine Information Agency report Monday.

A canine suspected of being rabid that had been exhibiting signs of restlessness, and overall uncharacteristic aggressive behavior, which are two symptoms of rabies. Image/CDC

A canine suspected of being rabid that had been exhibiting signs of restlessness, and overall uncharacteristic aggressive behavior, which are two symptoms of rabies.

City Health Officer Dr. Emmanuel A. Plandano said the victims were from different barangays of the city, “one 50-year old, male from Purok 10, Barangay Mabini died on January 22; one 8 year-old boy from Purok 5, Barangay Canlanipa died on February 11 and one 54-year old, female from Purok 1, Barangay Serna died last February 26.”

“One case of rabies is already considered an epidemic, because 100 meter radius of the rabies positive area should be quarantined and all dogs and cats within this area should be immunized with anti-rabies vaccine to avoid proliferation of said virus, that is why, we are asking the help of our friends from the tri-media to help us disseminate our campaign against rabies,” Plandano added.

Though a relatively rare cause of death in the United States, 55,000 people die globally from this dreaded disease, mostly in Africa and Asia. That’s at rate of one person every 10 minutes.

And that shouldn’t be the case because rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt and appropriate medical care.

Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted through the saliva or tissues from the nervous system from an infected mammal to another mammal.

Rabies is a zoonotic disease. Zoonotic diseases can pass between species. Bird flu and swine flu are other zoonotic diseases.

Related story:Philippines FDA warns of counterfeit rabies vaccine

According to the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, all mammals are susceptible to rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, coyotes and cats are the likely suspects. Other animals like otters and ferrets are also high risk. Mammals like rabbits, squirrels, rodents and opossums are rarely infected.

Rabies infected animals can appear very aggressive, attacking for no reason. Some may act very tame. They may look like they are foaming at the mouth or drooling because they cannot swallow their saliva. Sometimes the animal may stagger (this can also be seen in distemper). Not long after this point they will die. Most animals can transmit rabies days before showing symptoms.

Initially, like in many diseases, the symptoms of rabies are non-specific; fever, headache and malaise. This may last several days. At the site of the bite, there may be some pain and discomfort. Symptoms then progress to more severe: confusion, delirium, abnormal behavior and hallucinations. If it gets this far, the disease is nearly 100% fatal.

Related story:Filipino worker in Taiwan dies from rabies

Human rabies is prevented by administration of rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin.

Plandano also said to avoid proliferation of the said virus, the city health office will continue their support to the veterinary office through its surveillance and advocacy on rabies immunization. They will also help in the conduct of free rabies vaccination especially those areas identified as positive of rabies.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page and the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show page.

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The City Health Office (CHO)
The City Health Office (CHO)
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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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