Celebrity Pets: Rabies Alert!

Apr 1, 2007
A pit bull is a prizewinning dogfighter, but its owner, Biboy Ramirez, says, "Gusto ko, lapdog lang." Though the pit bull looks ferocious, he's really a gentle giant. "Ang bait-bait niyan," Biboy assures us. "Mahiyain nga 'yan, e." He has taken good care of Dexter ever since his friend, Chuck, gave the dog to him. But whenever Biboy is out

Rabies is a serious viral infection that attacks the central nervous system. It can only be transmitted from the bite of an infected animal. If left untreated, it can result in the death of the bite victim. But following a bite, says Dr. Edgardo Unson, the most important rule is: "Don't panic." There are steps to take.

Symptoms

Humans usually get rabies if bitten by a rabid animal. Dogs, by the way, aren't the only animals that can be rabies carriers. It can also infect cats, cows, horses, and sheep. In animals, symptoms of the disease may include any one or more of the following: hydrophobia or aversion to water; lockjaw; biting; and/or excessive salivation. For humans, the symptoms may consist of delirium; hoarse voice; and/or convulsions.

Treatment

Dr. Unson's advice:

"If you are bitten by an animal, especially if it's a stray, the standard procedure is to observe its behavior within a span of two weeks. A dog infected with rabies will keep biting and biting until it dies. When that happens, bring the dog to the Bureau of Animal Industry or the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to have its brain checked for the rabies virus."

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"Ask the owner if the pet has been vaccinated. If possible, ask also for the vaccination record. Then find out if the vaccine has expired. " (Dr. Glenn Lee, a colleague of Dr. Unson, adds: "If the vaccine has expired, the best thing to do is to observe the dog for symptoms of rabies.")

Remember, not all bites are rabid bites. If you are bitten, according to Dr. Unson: "The first thing to do is to clean the wound with running water and soap. If possible, let it bleed like a regular wound. There's no need to squeeze it excessively, just press lightly. Afterwards, apply an antiseptic. Then, see your doctor. He/she may give a tetanus shot, or prescribe antibiotics if it's a deep wound."

To all physicians attending to dog bites: "Dogs that are given annual rabies shots are protected. So, don't immediately set off the panic button."

For more info: Dr. Edgardo Unson of the Animal House Veterinary Clinic, 108 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati. Tel. 8963703 to 04.

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A pit bull is a prizewinning dogfighter, but its owner, Biboy Ramirez, says, "Gusto ko, lapdog lang." Though the pit bull looks ferocious, he's really a gentle giant. "Ang bait-bait niyan," Biboy assures us. "Mahiyain nga 'yan, e." He has taken good care of Dexter ever since his friend, Chuck, gave the dog to him. But whenever Biboy is out
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