By Mary Judaline Partlow

PET DOGS. Dogs frolic on the beach in this undated photo. The Department of Health in Negros Oriental on Tuesday (Jan. 23, 2024) calls for responsible pet ownership amid a feared increase in rabies cases this year. (PNA file photo by Mary Judaline Flores Partlow)

DUMAGUETE CITY – Animal bites and suspected rabies cases in the province are expected to rise in 2024 based on the trend reported over the past two years, an official of the Department of Health (DOH) in Negros Oriental said on Tuesday.

Dr. Jennifer Remollo, DOH-Negros Oriental provincial chief, noted that in this capital city alone, at least 80 animal bites are reported daily, 25 of which involved “returning” clients who need follow-up treatment.

“Our animal bite centers are bombarded with many suspected rabies cases every day, and this is already alarming,” she said in an interview.

Last year alone, Remollo said the number of cases in Dumaguete, Valencia, and Sibulan metropolitan areas was higher than in 2022.

Records from the DOH-Negros Oriental showed that in 2023, animal bite cases assessed, and given treatment included 4,759 at the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital (NOPH) in this city; 2,449 in Dumaguete City; 2,496 in Sibulan; 802 in Valencia.

In the previous year, the cases reported were 4,629 at NOPH; 1,527 in Dumaguete City; 814 in Sibulan; 592 in Valencia.

Cases from other towns and cities outside Metro Dumaguete are still being consolidated.

Most animal bites involve dogs, with only one percent implicating cats and other animals, Remollo said, adding that the rise in animal bites can be attributed to irresponsible pet ownership and stray dogs.

So far, no deaths related to animal bites have been reported this year, she said. (PNA)