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The provincial government of Sarangani has expanded its rabies vaccination activities as it moves to totally eliminate the deadly disease from the area.

Dr. Joselito Gleyo, chief of the Provincial Veterinary Office, said Wednesday they are targeting to cover all 141 barangays (villages) of the province’s seven municipalities until the end of the year for its continuing rabies vaccination program.

He said the move is in compliance with Republic Act No. 9482 or the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007, which provides for the “control and elimination of human and animal rabies, alongside the national target to pursue the attainment of a rabies-free Philippines in 2020.”

It mandated local government units to vaccinate 80 percent of their dog population as a primary measure to control the spread of rabies.

In the last three years, Gleyo said they have recorded nine human deaths due to confirmed rabies infection.

He said three were documented in 2014, two in 2015, and four in 2016.

Three of the victims were from Barangay Alegria in Alabel town and one from Kiamba, he said.

“Rabies is a 100 percent deadly disease but very preventable,” Gleyo said in a statement.

As part of the observance of the Rabies Awareness Month, the local government earlier launched a series of information and education activities on rabies in parts of the provice.

Provincial veterinary personnel visited schools in Alabel town on Tuesday and and in Glan on Wednesday for the awareness campaign.

Gleyo said they formally started this month their massive rabies vaccination drive, which will run until the end of the year.

He urged residents to take part in their campaign by voluntarily submitting their pet dogs for vaccination.

The official reiterated that dog vaccination remained as the most effective strategy in combating the disease.

For dog bite victims, he said they should immediately go to the nearest health center for examination and post exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which is available for free.

In private hospitals, PEP vaccines could cost from P4,000 to P22,000 per patient. (PNA) LAP/BS/AVE