Dinagat Islands sustains rabies-free status

BUTUAN CITY (PIA) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) Caraga announced that Dinagat Islands remains a rabies-free province.

The province managed to sustain being rabies-free for nine years.

The seven municipalities of the province, namely, Basilisa, Cagdianao, Dinagat, Libjo, Loreto, San Jose, and Tubajon, joined the other five towns in Surigao del Norte as the 12 local government units (LGUs) in Caraga Region that were officially declared rabies-free.

Dr. Esther Cardeño, regional rabies coordinator of DA-Caraga, said, “From 2015 up to the present, a total of 12 local government units have sustained the declaration of rabies-free, wherein five are island municipalities in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte and  all towns in the Province of Dinagat Islands.”

“Dinagat Islands is the first and still the only province in Caraga to receive such a declaration,” Dr. Cardeño added.

In line with the National Rabies Prevention and Control Program (NRPCP) of the government, on March 16, 2016, the regional offices of the Department of Health and Department of Agriculture officially declared the Province of Dinagat Islands a rabies-free zone. This declaration inspired the province and other local government units to support the long-term goal of the NRPCP to make the country rabies-free by 2020. Photo courtesy of DA-Caraga.

The official declaration to be a rabies-free province is the result of the intensified and sustainable campaign put in place by the DA, Department of Health,  provincial government of Dinagat Islands, and LGUs, with the strong engagement of responsible pet owners and the community against the disease.

“We push for strategic measures in eliminating rabies in our province. Our advocacy through information awareness and mass dog vaccination and canine castration campaigns paved the way for Dinagat Islands to sustain its rabies-free status,” Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Aimee Jimeno shared with DA Caraga.

On November 17, 2023, the Provincial Veterinary Office in Dinagat Islands conducted a mass canine castration in Barangay Jacquez and Santa Cruz in San Jose town as an annual directive to sustain the rabies-free province. Photo courtesy of PVO-PDI.

The provincial government of Dinagat Islands also implemented dog control measures through the enforcement of local ordinances in accordance with Republic Act 9482, or the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007, as this law directs LGUs to ensure that all dogs are properly immunized and, where there are stray dogs, to strictly enforce dog impounding activities.

“All municipalities in the province consistently implement impounding measures for stray dogs,” Jimeno added.

According to DOH, rabies is an infection that affects humans and is usually transmitted by a bite or scratch of an infected animal. It is responsible for the deaths of at least 200 Filipinos annually.

Through its lead agencies, the government intensifies its efforts to put an end to this public health problem through effective engagement with the local government units’ animal bite treatment centers  and upskilled medical practitioners on updates on the management of human rabies, animal bites, adverse reactions to vaccination, rabies diagnosis, cold chain management, and on-going control programs in the country. (RLE/PIA-Dinagat Islands)

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