VET VISIT: EM­MANUEL D. MA­CA­PA­GAL sets the record straight about ra­bies myths

Animal Scene - - CONTENTS - Text by EM­MANUEL D. MA­CA­PA­GAL, D.V.M. Virus, Not Venom

First of all, I would like my read­ers to un­der­stand that ra­bies is an in­fec­tious disease that is

caused by a virus, and not venom. It has a vec­tor. It has an es­tab­lished trans­mis­sion pat­tern and a def­i­nite disease out­come that comes with

it. It has a def­i­nite con­se­quence that is al­ways fa­tal. Only one per­son has sur­vived ra­bies and not without med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion. I have per­son­ally be­la­bored and en­gaged physi­cians in in­ten­sive di­a­logues, dis­pu­ta­tions with re­gard­ing this disease. The in­ten­tion is to en­cour­age a cor­rect and truth­ful un­der­stand­ing of an an­cient disease. As a vet­eri­nar­ian, I am per­suaded that de­spite the ad­vance­ment of med­i­cal knowl­edge in other coun­tries, the Philip­pines seems to lag be­hind in ef­forts to con­trol and pre­vent mor­tal­i­ties due to this disease. A lot of en­ergy and ef­fort must be ex­erted to ex­plain to our friends and col­leagues as well as coun­try­men about the great back­ward ef­fect, short of say­ing, this is a mis­un­der­stand­ing of ra­bies. We vet­eri­nar­i­ans, have been treated as though we were sec­ond-class doc­tors in our own coun­try.

The opin­ion from doc­tor to doc­tor varies; how­ever, the preva­lent thought as far as trans­mis­sion and sub­se­quently, in­fec­tion, is much the same. Knowl­edge is ver­i­fi­able nowa­days de­spite the fact that the in­ter­net is filled with dis­in­for­ma­tion and mis­in­for­ma­tion as well as half-truths.

As an hon­est skep­tic, I am driven by a pas­sion to per­suade my clients, neigh­bors, and all stake­hold­ers who are will­ing to lis­ten and learn from a vet­eri­nar­ian. By the way, by def­i­ni­tion, a vet­eri­nar­ian is a doc­tor who prac­tices medicine on an­i­mals. Fur­ther­more, let us dis­sect the et­y­mol­ogy of the word “vet­eri­nar­ian.” “Ve­teri­nae” is the neu­tral plu­ral of the Latin word that means per­tain­ing to an­i­mals; hence, a vet­eri­nar­ian is a doc­tor of an­i­mals. Hence­forth, I shall call them “the other doc­tor.”

There are cred­i­ble and le­git­i­mate web­sites that give us re­li­able in­for­ma­tion about the disease such as the Cen­ter for Disease Con­trol in At­lanta, Geor­gia, and the World

Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO). These sites give us up-to-date in­for­ma­tion that will lead us to a proper un­der­stand­ing of ra­bies. Why is there a need to dis­cuss an an­cient disease in the cur­rent Philip­pine set­ting? It is my opin­ion that wher­ever there is wide­spread lack of aware­ness or ig­no­rance re­gard­ing a mat­ter that is lifethreat­en­ing, full at­ten­tion is a must. These are things I do in my prac­tice to avoid un­nec­es­sary emo­tional pain and psy­cho­log­i­cal vex­a­tion of peo­ple that have been scratched, bit­ten, or licked by a dog or cat, and put them in their most ap­pro­pri­ate con­text as a vet­eri­nary medicine pro­fes­sional.

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