Ilocos Norte intensifies zero rabies campaign

LAOAG CITY, Oct. 16 (PIA) – In an effort to maintain zero-rabies case in Ilocos Norte, the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) have engaged various transport groups here in the campaign against rabies control.

The PVO, with the Animal Movement Management (AMM), has launched information materials such as billboards, posters, brochures, and stickers that were placed on strategic locations along the borders of the province as well as in public utility vehicles.

These materials aim to inform the public that it is necessary to have their dogs vaccinated against rabies before transporting them to Ilocos Norte to help prevent possible incursion of rabies from other provinces.

Provincial Veterinary Officer Loida Valenzuela said that one of the reasons of the presence of rabies in the province is the arrival of unvaccinated pets particularly dogs that came from other provinces.

“Transport groups have a very vital role in keeping our province rabies-free by educating them with the proper protocol in transporting dogs or cats to the province where the rule is, they should be vaccinated first,” Valenzuela said.

The urge to involve transport groups in the campaign against rabies stemmed from the previous incident where a dog from a neighbouring province became a carrier of rabies that spreaded out among pets in the province.

“The reason why we strictly monitor pets from other places is not only to educate pet owners about the importance of regular vaccination, but also to prevent the rabies from spreading,” said Valenzuela.

To further sustain a rabies-free community, the PVO has intensified its vaccination drive to all pets in Ilocos Norte. As of now, about 31 percent of all the dog community here were properly vaccinated.
“We also offer vaccination to pets who were not previously vaccinated in their hometown provinces. What the pet owner has to do is to come to our office and have them vaccinated,” Valenzuela said.

Meanwhile, Luz Catubay, provincial rabies nurse coordinator, said that animal bite cases in Ilocos Norte is still high but maintains zero-rabies case.

“We have even less than one year-old patient on animal bite but most of the victims are 15 years old and above,” Catubay said.

Catubay said that responsible pet ownership is the key to lessen the incident of animal bite noting for example an ordinance enacted in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte on regulating stray animals where dogs were impounded when seen roaming in the yard and owners shall be fined for their freedom.

Valenzuela added that being a rabies-free community benefits the tourism industry of the province.

Ilocos Norte is awaiting the declaration of the Department of Health (DOH) for the province as a rabies-free community.

With the partnership of the GARC, the province has been rabies-free since 2013 through the program “Community Against Rabies Exposure” (CARE). (CHERRY JOY GARMA/PIA-1, Ilocos Norte)