Despite the goal of becoming rabies free by 2022, 12 deaths due to rabies were reported in 2021 in the province of Iloilo, The Philippines, a 3-fold increase from 2020. Five of the 6 towns/cities from where the cases were reported are within the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA). All cases were reported to have gone to traditional healers (“manugtandok”) instead of the government-designated animal bite centers.
The WHO recommends treatment for post-exposure rabies by a combination of a single dose rabies specific immune globulin and 4 doses of rabies immunization spread out over a few weeks or 6 doses within 1 week. The unfortunate event reported here is multifactorial in its origin, but it emphasizes the need to improve access to animal bite centers and communication of the available appropriate treatment to the public. Building community relationship is essential for public health service. Recruiting and training these traditional healers that the community already trusts and believes in is a feasible solution.
By Merlin Sanicas Aix-Marseille University Team Antibody Therapeutics and Immunotargeting at Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie de Marseille Laboratoire Adhésion et Inflammation