MANILA -- Records from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that 50 percent of animal bite victims are children below the age of 15.
Most of these cases are also very severe, putting a child's life at risk.
In an interview on DZMM's "Magandang Gabi Dok," Dr. Raffy Deray of the National Rabies Prevention and Control Program of the DOH, reported that the number of animal bite victims increases during summer.
"'Yung aming palagay po 'yan ay dahil karamihan ng mga bata ngayon, nasa bakasyon po sila. At 'yung pag-asa po o 'yung chance na makagat sila ng aso, tumataas," Deray said.
He added that animal bites in children are often found in the head and neck area because of their small size. This makes the bites more dangerous, since the bite sites are located nearer to the central nervous system.
The face is also highly innervated, which increases the risk of contracting rabies virus.
According to Deray, children are usually more vulnerable to animal bites because they do not have the ability to defend themselves from animal attacks. They also do not understand that some of their actions may provoke animals to attack them.
"May ginagawa 'yung mga bata na hindi nila alam na napo-provoke na nila ang mga aso," he explained, adding that some animals tend to attack if they are touched in some sensitive parts of their bodies, like their tails.
As simple as it may sound, washing the bite site with soap and water should be the first thing a patient should do.
"As soon as possible, pagkakagat sa kanila, hugasan po 'yung sugat with soap and water for at least 10 minutes, at pagkatapos po noon ay dumulog na po sila sa pinakamalapit na health facility para po matingnan ng doktor," Deray said.
He also explained that experts have proven that immediately washing the bite site with soap and water for at least 10 minutes reduces risk of contracting rabies virus by 50%.
The rabies virus is usually found in the animal's saliva, and washing it off the wound should be the first thing a patient should do.
Depending on the severity of the bite, a patient will receive around three or four shots of vaccine. Deray added that the vaccine is injected directly on the bite site, which makes it more painful, especially for young children.
Protecting children from animal bites
Contrary to popular belief that animal bites are caused by stray animals, Deray said there are also many patients who get bitten by their pets.
"Hindi po totoo na ang marami sa cases ay nakagat ng stray. Marami na rin po na nakagat ng pets nila," he explained.
To prevent pets from biting children or guests, Deray advised owners to learn more about their prospective pet's behavior and characteristics before choosing a breed or animal to take care of.
He added that the DOH is also calling on pet shop owners to teach prospective pet owners on how to properly handle pet cats and dogs.