Philippine Girl Dies of Rabies After Hiding Dog Bite

Rabies dog bite

A heartbreaking incident has left a family in the Philippines mourning the loss of their 13-year-old daughter, who tragically succumbed to rabies two months after being bitten by a stray dog.

Jamaica Star Seraspe, a resident of Tondo District, Manila, concealed the dog bite from her parents. This led to a delayed medical response that ultimately proved fatal.

Rushed to Hospital as Symptoms Escalate

On April 5, Jamaica was rushed to San Lazaro Hospital after developing severe symptoms. She had fever, back pain, fatigue, and difficulty drinking water. Despite the efforts of medical staff, her condition rapidly worsened, and she passed away on April 6. Her autopsy confirmed that she had died of rabies encephalitis, a viral disease that is nearly always fatal once symptoms manifest.

Understanding Rabies Transmission

Rabies, a viral infection, is transmitted through transdermal bites or scratches from infected animals, including dogs and cats. The virus is typically spread when infectious material, such as saliva, directly contacts fresh skin lesions on the victim. In rare cases, transmission may also occur through inhalation of virus-containing spray or via organ transplants.

A Neglected yet Fatal Disease

The Department of Health (DOH) highlights rabies as a neglected disease, despite its 100 percent fatality rate and preventable nature. While not a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the country, rabies remains a significant public health concern. It has an acute fatality rate. Annually, it claims the lives of 200 to 300 Filipinos.

Correlation to Rising Temperatures

The onset of the summer season in the Philippines brings hotter days and an alarming increase in the risk of dog bites, particularly among young children. As families prepare for outdoor activities and children engage in playtime, it becomes crucial for parents and kids alike to be protected by the rabies vaccine.

Study Reveals Correlation Between Dog Bites and Summer Months

A study published in the journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery highlights a concerning correlation between cases of dog bites and rising temperatures. Researchers suggest that the high frequency of injuries during the summer months may be attributed to various factors. These factors include children spending more time outdoors playing with dogs in warmer temperatures and a general increase in the irritability of dogs during the warmer months.

National Rabies Prevention Control Program

Dr Raffy Deray of the National Rabies Prevention Control Program of the Department of Health (DOH) shed light on the seasonal trends of animal bite cases, particularly during the summer season. Dr Deray noted that animal bite cases tend to increase during summer. Additionally, many of these cases involve children below 15 years old.

He also emphasised, “We speculate that it’s because most children are on their summer break now. And so, the chances are greater that they’ll get bitten by the dogs.” He further explained that not all dog bite cases are caused by stray dogs. Many victims also report being bitten by their own pets.

Importance of Rabies Vaccination

As the risk of dog bites escalates during the summer months, it becomes imperative for parents to prioritise the rabies vaccination for themselves and their children. Vaccination protects individuals from the fatal consequences of rabies and helps prevent the transmission of the disease to others..

Public Awareness Campaign

With the seasonal increase in dog bite incidents, health authorities and community organisations play a crucial role raising awareness about the importance of preventive measures. Public awareness campaigns with educational initiatives and outreach programs will empower individuals.

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