13-Year-Old Girl Dies from Rabies in Philippines After Dog Bite, Highlighting Need for Vaccination and Prompt Treatment

Tragic tale of 13-year-old Philippine girl who died of rabies after hiding dog bite from parents, highlighting urgent need for pet vaccination, bite reporting, and timely treatment to prevent such devastating outcomes.

Rafia Tasleem
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13-Year-Old Girl Dies from Rabies in Philippines After Dog Bite, Highlighting Need for Vaccination and Prompt Treatment

13-Year-Old Girl Dies from Rabies in Philippines After Dog Bite, Highlighting Need for Vaccination and Prompt Treatment

A 13-year-old girl in the Philippines has died from rabies after being bitten by a dog in February 2024. Jamaica Star Seraspe initially kept the bite a secret from her parents out of fear of disappointing them, leading to a delay in seeking medical attention. Two months later, she developed severe symptoms including fever, back pain, and difficulty drinking water.

Jamaica was finally taken to the hospital on April 5, but her condition rapidly deteriorated and she passed away the next day. An autopsy confirmed that she had succumbed to rabies encephalitis, which is nearly always fatal once symptoms appear. Before her death, Jamaica was able to share her experience, describing the difficulty in breathing and the hydrophobia she was experiencing, which are telltale signs of rabies.

The dog that bit Jamaica had also attacked seven other people in February. The Animal Kingdom Foundation, a non-governmental organization, stressed the importance of pet vaccination and prompt medical attention, as there is no cure for rabies once the symptoms manifest. The Department of Health reported 89 total rabies cases in the first quarter of 2024, all of which resulted in deaths.

Why this matters: This tragic case highlights the ongoing threat of rabies in the Philippines and the critical need for increased awareness, preventive measures, and timely treatment. It serves as a sobering reminder for pet owners to ensure their animals are vaccinated and for the public to seek immediate medical care if bitten by a dog.

The Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) is advising residents to seek care at Animal Bite Treatment Centers (ABTC) or district hospitals immediately after a dog bite, as the province is experiencing an increasing number of animal bite incidents. In 2023, Iloilo recorded 72,805 animal bite cases and five human deaths due to rabies. The IPHO has expressed concerns over vaccine shortages due to the Department of Health's transition to local government unit (LGU) management, which has affected supply chains.

The provincial government is working to ensure a 70 to 100 percent vaccination coverage among the local dog population to eradicate rabies, with the governor allocating additional funds for vaccine purchases. Jamaica's family has warned other parents to take dog bites seriously and teach children to report them immediately. "We didn't know that a simple dog bite could lead to death," said Jamaica's mother. "If only we had known and sought medical attention right away, my daughter would still be alive today." This case emphasizes the importance of responsible pet ownership, prompt medical attention for bites, and strict enforcement of rabies ordinances to prevent further deaths from this fatal disease.

Key Takeaways

  • 13-year-old girl in Philippines dies from rabies after dog bite in Feb 2024.
  • She hid the bite from parents, delaying medical care until severe symptoms appeared.
  • 7 other people were also attacked by the same dog that bit the girl.
  • Iloilo province saw 72,805 animal bite cases and 5 rabies deaths in 2023.
  • Prompt treatment and pet vaccination are critical to prevent rabies deaths.