Wednesday, April 01, 2015


Stray Dogs  - Potential Threat to Motorists
by Ernesto T. Solidum

The recent Weekly Kapihan discussed the topic, “Summer Diseases and Animal Bites” at NVC Carmen Hotel. Guests are Dr. Cornelio V. Cuachon Jr. - Provincial Health Officer I (PHO)  and Dr.  Rumulo Lorenzo, Office of the Provincial Veterenarian, Aklan.

Summer is synonymous with outdoor fun and relaxation for people taking their vacation from mundane tasks. However, we need to watch out for summer diseases that often kill victims, warned Dr. Cuachon. He listed important diseases all beginning with letter “S” for easy recall: a) Sunburn, b) Sipon, c) Sore eyes, d) Stomach ailment, e) Skin diseases, and f) Sakmal aso.

Sunburn is intense heat burning outer layers of the skin turning into reddish brown. Sun’s rays between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM can be lethal to unprotected bodies. Hence, have protective cover, wear long sleeves/long pants instead of skimpy outfit when doing things in open. Sipon is running nose accompanied by sneezing. Sore eyes results when dust or dirt penetrates and infects the tissues. Here, eyeballs appear reddish and patient suffers blurred vision especially with direct sunlight. 

Stomach ailments can be the result of eating foods that are stale invasioned by intestinal parasites. Skin diseases are often the result of allergies and acute deficiency of vitamins. Sakmal ng aso, animal bite usually by a dog, potential carrier of rabies virus. Other animal species are cats, squirrels, skunks, beavers and rats.

Dr. Lorenzo disclosed that RA 9482 or Responsible Pet Ownership Act enjoins all concerned individuals to submit their pets to regular check-up and anti-rabies vaccination. One needs only to go to the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian with his pet where their services are free. Present LGU Ordinance on cases of animal bites where dog is not vaccinated could be slapped a hefty fine of P25,000. Vets on the case usually observe the dog for 5-10 days while the victim gets immediate anti rabies injection. Second dose is on the 7th day and finally on the 28th day. Louis Pasteur, Father of Microbiology in 1885 saved the life of a boy bitten by a dog by injecting him with weakened rabies virus.

It is warmly appreciated that Gov. Florencio Miraflores has released the P500,000 fund for the Animal Bite Center at DRSTMH. Before this, victims and their families have to pay considerable sum just to ensure the timely and proper medical treatment. The tertiary hospital has 2,500 anti rabies vaccines available for free.

“Our program calls for 70 percent of all dogs vaccinated within Aklan. Thus, the March 24 opening salvo on education information, treatment, and prevention of diseases at the Provincial Capital”. Dr. Lorenzo underscored that animal pets are part of the family and need to be loved and protected so their services could be optimized.

The province of Aklan has 3,600 reported cases of dog bites out of 47,789 dog population in 2014. However, only 26.36 per cent of our dogs are vaccinated. It is known that 14 year old Debbie Villaflor of Estancia, Kalibo was one of the victims who died last year.

It should be fair and just, dogs which figure in motorcycle or bicycle crashes in the national or provincial highway that lead to serious physical injuries or death of the motorist and his back rider must be accounted for by the animal owner. Penalty must be P25,000 or the same case as when the victim is bitten. This should serve as stern warning to irresponsible, worthless owners.

Almost all towns and cities have existing Ordinances against stray dogs and cats, organizing Animal Catching Crew and building Impounding Center. In Kalibo, the law is technically inoperative since its facility at Kalibo Slaugtherhouse compound has not been rehabilitated since Typhoon Frank struck it down.

Fortunately, a private facility called Aklan Rehabilitation and Rescue Center (ARRC) was opened at Paraiso Road, Linabuan Sur. It can accommodate 100 dogs at a time. A Swiss, married to a Filipina manages the physical rehabilitation and medical needs of unwanted dogs or those given up for adoption. Since their budget is very limited, neighboring towns may place their animals at ARCC but required to shoulder the food component. 

The Philippines has 20 million youngsters infested with intestinal parasites such as roundworms, pinworms, hookworms and tapeworms. Signs are abdominal pain and weight loss. Its effects are lack of physical activity, poor mental health and stunted growth. Dr. Cuachon said they have a pre –school deworming program for kids 1-6 years old held every October of each year. Personal hygiene like hand washing before meals, daily bath and acces to sanitary toilet are must. The 2013 Annual Poverty Indicator Survey by Philippines Statistics Authority shows that 83 percent of families in Region VI have access to safe drinking water, 83 percent have sanitary toilets and 89 per cent with electricity. With these data, high incidence of intestinal parasite despite available household facilities could be traced to inadequate info drive by PHO and DepEd.

Yes, summer must be enjoyed by old and young alike. Whether going on outing or staying indoors, one must be pro-active like drinking lots of water, eating fruits, wearing loose and light clothing, wide brim hat, get into a car and go straight to the beach. It is great to behold our alluring beaches, crystal clear blue water and wind whispering in our ears. 

However,  drive carefully for dogs may block your way. /MP

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