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PIA Press Release

Rabies-free island good for tourism

By Mai Gevera

Davao City (9 November) -- The Island Garden City of Samal targets to be a Rabies-Free Zone by 2015. It recently launched its bid to be the first rabies-free zone in Mindanao and in doing so could augur well for the city's tourism industry.

Livestock division head of the Department of Agriculture Dr. Rafael Mercado said that getting this title would help boost tourism in the city.

"More tourists would no longer be hesitant to visit the island learning that it is rabies-free. Experience in rabies-free zones like Apo Island turned out beneficial to the local economy as revenues increased after getting the title," said Mercado.

The Department of Agriculture urges island cities or municipalities to aim for the title especially because it is much easier to control the entry of dogs in an island setting.

Transportation of dogs coming from outside the island is also limited that makes it easier for effective quarantine. The sea is considered a natural barrier that can control the entry of dogs.

Igacos, having launched their aim to become a Rabies-free zone, will then start implement programs such as massive vaccination to the dogs within the island as well as strict quarantine to canines coming from outside. Tourists or locals bringing with them their dogs will have their canines undergo proper quarantine.

To become rabies-free, the island must have no case of indigenously acquired by a lyssavirus confirmed in any human during the previous two years.

In 2009, Igacos reported one case of human rabies; however, the local government was not given referral about it. For canine rabies, there were four reported positive cases in 2009 and 2 cases this year.

Rabies is a fatal disease in developing countries where animal rabies immunization, prevention, and control of dogs are inadequate.

The Philippines ranks among the top ten countries worldwide with the highest incidence of Human Rabies deaths. The annual mortality rate from rabies is 5-8 per million population, thus, approximately 300-500 Filipinos die of rabies every year.

In 2005, the animal rabies incidence was calculated at 17.5 per 100,000 dog population and the regions with high incidence of animal rabies are Regions 6, 3, 10, NCR, 1, 4, and 7. (PIA XI) [top]

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