How to prevent rabies and what to do after an animal bite

How to prevent rabies and what to do after an animal bite

By: - Reporter / @zacariansINQ
/ 07:19 PM April 25, 2024

 How to prevent rabies and what to do after an animal bite



MANILA, Philippines — After the recent death of a 13-year-old girl from rabies, the Department of Health (DOH) issued reminders to the public on how to avoid contracting the deadly virus and what to do with animal bite cases.


DOH Spokesperson Albert Domingo stressed that it is important to remember that rabies can be contracted not just through bites from rabid animals.


Not just via bites

“It doesn’t have to be a bite, it can be a scratch or even licking of wounds, dogs or cats who will lick even small nicks in the skin of people can actually expose these people to the rabies virus,” Domingo told 

While many animals may be rabid, dogs and cats remain the biggest carriers of rabies and are referred to as reservoirs.

Pet vaccination

Hence, Domingo urged the public, especially pet owners, to have their pets vaccinated.

“We have vaccines for post exposure prophylaxis, but there is another kind of vaccine given to dogs and cats and that is cheaper,” said Domingo. 

“If we are able to control rabies in the reservoir population we will prevent the transmission from animal to human and therefore we will prevent the human deaths due to rabies,” he added.

Domingo also urged the public to report stray dogs and cats to their respective local governments for proper intervention and minimize the risk of animal to human transmission of rabies.


Once bitten by an animal, Domingo said the following measures should be taken:

  • Immediately wash  wound with clean water and soap
  • Go to the nearest health center or emergency room, or ideally an animal bite center
  • If the wound is big, apply first aid  to control bleeding – put over clean cloth and apply firm pressure
  • Call for help immediately and consult medical professional to check for the bite


Meanwhile, Domingo said the onset of symptoms of rabies may vary depending on how close the bite is to the head, since rabies mainly targets the nervous system or the brain.

“So if the bite is closer to the brain then it’s faster. Unfortunately, it’s 100 percent fatal so the closer the bite is to the brain then the faster it is the patient can die,” said Domingo.

 “If it is far from the brain, then expect that there might be a period of normalcy, or you might not have symptoms [and only get them] the closer you get to the point of mortality,” he added.

Based on the DOH website, initial symptoms of rabies are similar to the common flu, such as fever, headache, and general weakness.

Discomfort, pain, numbness, itchiness, or a prickling sensation may also occur at the bite site.

In the later stage of the infection, Domingo said symptoms usually progress to neurological complications such as:

  • Hydrophobia or an intense aversion to anything that resembles water,  the sound of water, or even the idea of water
  • Change in consciousness or in the mental state of the patient

Always report animal bites

In the case of the 13-year-old girl, Domingo lamented how it has come to a point where children would rather not tell their parents they were bitten due to fear and / or shame.

“This leads us to the conclusion that we need to improve, as we are doing so, our communication efforts,” said Domingo.

“We would like to always broadcast to everyone, animal bites are not things that we should be afraid or ashamed of. Let us let our parents know, doctors and nurses about this so we can be given the right vaccines — post-exposure vaccines,” he added.

 As of March 2024, the DOH has so far recorded 89 rabies cases.  All 89 cases resulted in death

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TAGS: DoH, rabies

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