MANILA — The Philippines has logged 55 cases of rabies from January 1 to February 25, all of which were fatalities, according to the Department of Health.
This is 8 percent higher than the 51 cases reported during the same time last year.
"I will not describe it as alarming though it is slightly higher," Dr. Alethea De Guzman, director of DOH's epidemiology bureau, said in a virtual town hall forum Friday.
She noted the country's surveillance against the disease may have improved.
"Remember for the past 3 years we've very been focused on COVID-19. It's only recently we had space and resources for diseases other than COVID-19," De Guzman said.
The top 5 regions with rabies cases are Region 3 (11 cases), Calabarzon (9 cases), Region 5 (5 cases), Region X (4 cases) and Region X1 (4 cases).
In her report, De Guzman said older age groups remained the most affected by rabies from 2008 to 2023. Moreover, majority of the cases were among males at 72 percent.
Meanwhile, majority of rabies cases reported in recent years were incidents involving dogs. For this year, 41.82 percent were stray dogs, 36.36 percent were domestic dogs and 1.82 percent were wild dogs.
Of the 2023 figure, 46.81 percent of the dog-related rabies cases are unvaccinated while 53.19 percent have unknown vaccination status.
Also, only 8 out of 81 provinces in the country are declared rabies-free from 2008 to 2020, she said.
These are Siquijor, Batanes, Biliran, Camiguin, Marinduque, Dinagat Islands, Catanduanes, and Romblon.
The country observes Rabies Awareness Month in March.
De Guzman called on the public that rabies could be prevented through the vaccination of dogs and other pets and avoiding interaction with wild or stray animals.
She also said that bite victims must initially wash wounds with soap and running water and seek immediate help at an animal bite treatment center.