“Kinuskos ko ng bawang [ang sugat] (I just rubbed garlic on her wound),” Rose Ann Condeno said while cradling her daughter in her arms.
Her daughter was recently clawed by a stray cat while playing outside—she has not been vaccinated with anti-rabies.
According to the Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Eric Domingo, victims of rabies rarely survive and almost 100 percent of them die without receiving anti-rabies vaccine.
Rabies is a viral disease that can be passed from an animal to a human through biting or clawing. Rabies cases in the country often spike during vacation when children spend more time outside.
Victims of rabies usually get infected following a bite or a scratch from a rabid stray dog or cat on the street.
“Siyempre kapag bakasyon iyong mga bata, wala na sa eskwela, naglalaro maghapon, naglalaro sa kalye and then dito talaga tayo nagkakroon na dumadami ang cases ng nakakagat ng aso (Of course, during vacation, they are no longer in school. They will mostly play all afternoon. This is when cases of animal bite rise),” Domingo said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 40 percent of people bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age.
Condeno’s daughter, who is only 11 months old, did not experience any fever and appears to be in stable condition.
“May nagsabi nga sa akin na pa-injectionan siya, pero tinignan ko naman medyo mababaw, kaya naman na hindi siya nilagnat (Someone told me to get her vaccinated but I checked and the wound is not that deep. She did not experience any fever),” she adds.
The DOH said vaccination is a must because cleaning or using alternative medicines will not be enough to prevent the virus.
“Hindi pa rin tayo nakakasigurado siyempre, kailangan pa rin natin iyong anti-bodies na lalaban sa rabies (We cannot be sure, we still need the anti-bodies to fight rabies),” Domingo said.
However, the Health department laments the lack of supply of anti-rabies vaccine in the country.
In April last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that supplies of human anti-rabies vaccines across the globe are contaminated.
With this, Domingo urges everyone to be more careful especially with children who has an open wound.
They can also suffer from rabies if they were licked by an animal without anti-rabies vaccine.
“We are asking everybody to be extra careful kasi talagang mayroon pa tayong shortage ng ating anti- rabies vaccines sa humans sa buong mundo (We are asking everybody to be extra careful because there is a global shortage of human anti-rabies vaccines),” he said. —Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)