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Pets may be the best companions in life, but they can also be the cause of your death if they are not well taken care off. Dogs and cats are said to be a man’s best friend, however, without proper care and vaccines, the rabies that they carry could be dangerous to you.

What is rabies? Rabies is a fatal disease which was first discovered by Girolamo Fracastoro in the 16th century, in which he dubbed the virus as an “incurable wound”. It is a virus present in the saliva of an infected animal which could be transmitted to humans through a bite or when the saliva gets in contact with wounds or fresh break in the skin. However, in rare cases, rabies virus could also be transmitted through human to human, if one of them is already suffering from the virus and conducted an organ transplant afterwards.

The rabies virus primarily affects the central nervous system – brain and spinal cord. At first, the symptoms may appear to be like those of many other infections – fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and other general discomfort, however, as the disease progresses, later signs and symptoms may include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Partial paralysis
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fear of water (due to the difficulty in swallowing)
  • Excessive salivation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion 

As of 2017, according to the PCHRD (Philippine Council for Health Research and Development), the Philippines is one of the top 10 countries with the highest incidence of rabies in the world. DOH officials estimate that 100,000 Filipinos are treated for dog bites and 200 – 300 Filipinos die from rabies annually.

DOH’s National Rabies Prevention and Control Program continue to implement activities and strategies to achieve their goal – for the Philippines to be declared as a rabies-free country by 2020. Other programs of DOH include the Free Anti-Rabies Vaccine and Animal Bite Treatment Package.

If you happen to be bitten by an animal you suspect to have rabies, wash the wound immediately with soap and water; and then quickly consult a doctor for further examinations.

Life is fun when you have pets around you; however, it will be more enjoyable and safe if you know the proper way to take care of your pets and yourself as well.