DIGOS CITY, Philippines – Health authorities here said 21 men were put under tight watch after the discarded head of the dog, which they butchered and ate on Tuesday last week, tested positive for rabies.
Milagros Sunga, city health officer, told the Philippine Daily that it was possible the men from Barangay (village) Kapatagan had contracted the virus but have not shown any signs yet.
A rabies victim may show signs of infection as early as seven days to as long as seven years, according to medical journals.
Sunga, quoting Kapatagan village officials, said the men whom she did not identify, had butchered the rabid dog when it bit a resident on Tuesday.
She said the men had reasoned that they decided to kill the animal so it could not harm other people.
But Sunga said the problem started when the men later butchered the dog and cooked its meat.
“They discarded the head through, which enabled us to submit it for testing in Davao City,” she said.
The presence of rabies in animals such as dogs is determined by an immunofluorescence test, which entails an examination of the dead animal’s brain tissues through light microscopy using fluorescence microscope. During the test, the presence of rabies is indicated by luminance showed by the dead animal’s antibodies. The same test can also be used through tissue samples from the neck of a suspected victim, along with tests on the saliva and spinal fluid.
Sunga Monda said their fears were confirmed as laboratory results revealed that the dog’s head was infected with rabies.
A post by the Department of Environmental Protection of the State of Connecticut on the website of the US government-operated e-regulations (http://www.eregulations.com/) said that eating the properly cooked meat of rabid animals was safe because the rabies virus can be killed by heat from cooking. However, the careless handling of the animal’s carcass can easily transmit the virus, which is why rubber gloves should be worn, it added.
According to Kapatagan village officials, the men wore no protection when they butchered the rabid dog.
Medical journals described rabies as “a deadly viral infection that is mainly spread by infected animals,” normally through their secretions that people with open wounds can come in contact with.
Rabies causes the swelling of the brain and death normally follows. An effective treatment for people, who manifest symptoms of rabies, is still not available but doctors normally prescribe human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG), administered in five doses over 28 days.
Sunga said the city health office would have wanted all the men who partook of the rabid dog’s meat to voluntarily submit themselves for vaccination to ascertain they were all safe but seven of them had opted not to be given the HRIG vaccine.
Kapatagan village officials said they would ask the seven men to sign waivers, which would indicate the government would not be spending for their medication should they later manifest rabies symptoms, such as drooling, convulsions, hyperactivity, loss of sensitivity around the bite area, weak muscles and spasms, low fever and swallowing difficulty, among others.