Whiskers may be enough to detect, combat rabies, say vets
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Whiskers just may be enough to detect rabies in dogs and other animals once a new test being developed by a team of Japanese veterinarians proves successful.
The new detection method called Rapid Immunochromatographic Test (RICT) may do away with killing rabies-infected animals, opening their heads and getting brain samples, according to Dr. Ryan Paul Manlapaz, the city veterinarian.
Whiskers or long hair from the muzzle, jaw and above the eyes can be used to detect rabies because these are near the salivary glands, Manlapaz said.
The current practice of confirming rabies is cruel. The animal is euthanized, its whole brain exposed and a sample is taken for microscopic examination, according to the veterinarian.
In some instances, animals tested negative.
More reliable results
Manlapaz said RICT could also provide more reliable results in less than an hour. “At most, it takes two days before we know the result of microscopic exam.”
Rabies is caused by a virus, Lyssavirus genus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
On July 9, Dr. Satoshi Inoue of the Department of Veterinary Science in National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Dr. Park Chun-Ho of the School of Veterinary Medicine of Kitasato University tested the procedure among dogs at the city’s dog pound at the new public market here.
Japan, where the test is being developed, is known to be rabies-free for over 50 years now.
Mayor Edwin Santiago said the city was chosen to pilot-test the new method. He said this was an offshoot of the government’s request for Japan to help the country attain rabies-free status in 2020.
San Fernando recorded 17 rabies cases from January to June. A 7-year-old child in Barangay del Carmen here recently died of rabies, the first in the last five years.
In the country, 1,176 rabies cases had been reported from 2014 to the first half of 2018, but only 4 percent were laboratory-confirmed, Department of Health data showed.
In that period, 185 cases came from Central Luzon.
Local governments usually give free vaccination, deworming and checkup for pets and conduct dog impounding operations in villages.
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