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Got Bitten By a Dog or Cat? Here’s How to Receive Free Animal Bite Treatment in Cebu City Health Department

The price of anti-rabies vaccine in the Philippines depend on the number of shots needed. The rates may start from 400 pesos per shot and could reach up to 1,800 pesos. Usually, the average cost for the series of shot is priced at 8,000 pesos the minimum. On top of that, for severe cases where the bite has caused bleeding to the area, Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) is needed, which is more expensive at Php 4,000 the maximum per vial. If ever you got bitten and don’t have the budget in getting Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), here’s a step-by-step procedure on how to receive free animal bite treatment in Cebu City.

Getting bitten by an unvaccinated animal brings in a lot of problems. Aside from the pain from the bite area and the possibility of carrying the rabies virus, it’s also pretty expensive to get the animal bite treatment. A lot of us have little knowledge of what to do if it happens. So, before we get into the treatment, let’s take a look at what rabies is and how do we know if we have the infection.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a life-threatening virus spread to people through the saliva of infected animals. It is usually transmitted, but not limited to, through a bite.  In developing countries like the Philippines, stray cats and dogs are most likely to spread this virus to people.

When a person starts to show signs and symptos, this virus always causes death. That’s why it’s really important to get post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment for protection.

Symptoms of Rabies Infection

The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to those of the flu and may last for days.

Later signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Fear brought on by attempts to drink fluids because of difficulty swallowing water
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Partial paralysis

What should I do if I am bitten by an animal or exposed to the saliva of a possibly rabid animal?

Get emergency help if:

  • The person has been seriously wounded.
  • Bleeding can’t be stopped after 10 minutes of firm and steady pressure.
  • Bleeding is severe.
  • Blood spurts from the wound.

First Aid: What to do?

  • Stop the bleeding.  If the bite or scratch wound is bleeding, apply pressure to the area with a clean bandage or towel until the bleeding stops. If available, use clean latex or rubber gloves to protect yourself and to prevent the wound from getting infected.
  • Clean and Protect. If the wound is not bleeding heavily, thoroughly clean it with soap and water. Hold it under running water for several minutes. Then, dry the wound, and if available, apply antibiotic ointment. Cover it with a clean cloth.
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Seek immediate care if the bite has punctured your skin even if the area is small. This allows the virus to penetrate which can cause more serious problems later on.

Also, take note of the lcoation of the animal, and if possible, have it captured and confined so you can observe it it has the rabies virus. Do not try to capture the animal yourself. You must call the Cebu City Animal Care and Control to help in containing the animal.

Observe the biting animal for 10 days. If the animal is infected with rabies, it becomes ill in 3-4 days and dies in another 3-5 days. This is also to determine if the individual bitten is at risk of developing rabies or not. The only limited course of action is to observe the biting animal for at least 10 days from the day of bite. But, if you have any doubt, you may start the series of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) just to be sure.

Get immediate medical care if:

  • the wound is on the face, neck, hand, foot, or near a joint
  • the wound won’t stop bleeding after 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • the wound appears to be deep, large, or severe
  • the attacking animal was stray or wild or behaving strangely
  • the bite or scratch has pus coming from it, or becomes red, hot, swollen, or increasingly painful
  • your tetanus immunizations are not up to date

Step-by-step Procedure: How to Get Vaccinated with Anti-Rabies for Free

Below is the step-by-step procedure I followed when I was bitten by a stray cat last month. This is if you wish to avail of the free vaccination services of the government. If not, you can always go to the nearest Emergency Room, and get vaccinated at your own expense.

If you are bitten by an animal, especially a stray that is unvaccinated, you may need the following:

  • a tetanus booster
  • a series of rabies shots – Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
  • administration of Rabies Immune Globulin (RIG) for severe cases (animal bite with bleeding)
  • antibiotics (prescribed by a physician)

Step 1: Get a tetanus booster

The very first step is proceed to your Barangay Health Center and report the incident.

  • Barangay Health workers will ask you about the what, where and when of the animal bite, and the first-aid (if any) that you’ve done.
  • The Barangay nurse practitioner will also give you an anti-tetanus shot for free.
  • Lastly, which is also the most important, they will give you a referral to the Animal Bites Center of the City Health Department for your vaccine. Cebu City Health Department won’t entertain you unless you have this referral from your respective Barangay.

Step 2: Submit the referral to the Animal Bite Center of the City Health Department

The antirabies prophylaxis (PEP) should be administered after exposure. Since I am living in Cebu City, I went to Cebu City Health Department in General Maxilom Avenue. The queuing can get pretty long, so you need to be there before 8 am. The nurse practitioner or medical health worker will run an assessment on how severe your animal bite is. This assessment will be the basis of the number of rabies shots you have to take.

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After the screening, the practitioner will give you the schedule of your rabies shot. In my case, I need to come back four times, separate days for the shots.

Step 3: Injecting of Rabies Immune Globulin (RIG) to the Bite Area

For severe cases where the bite caused bleeding, you need to be injected with RIG to the wound area. Note that this should be given by your health care provider as soon as possible after exposure.

There are two types of RIG:

  • Equine rabies immunoglobulin (ERIG). ERIG is equine RIG and is produced in horses.
  • Human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG). HRIG is human RIG and is produced in humans.

Note: Both contain antibodies and are effective in fighting against the rabies virus.

However, the free vaccination from the Cebu City Health Department only gives the ERIG. You will be undergoing skin test to see if you have an allergic reaction on ERIG. If none, then you get the RIG for free. However, if you tested positive and have an allergic reaction, you need to purchase the HRIG yourself from outside source, and have it administered by the practitioner.

Step 4: Ask for prescription (optional).

Antibiotics is optional, depending on the severity of the bite. If you feel pain on the bite area, or if there is swelling, you may need antibiotics. Disclose everything to the practitioner, and they will ask their physician to give you a prescription. In my case, they even gave me free antibiotics which is good for 7 days. Since, I need to take antibiotics for 14 days, I just purchased the remaining from a pharmacy.

Step 5: Complete your vaccination shots.

Only by completing your vaccination shots can you be given immunity. Well, if you don’t and the animal that bit you really does have the rabies virus, first, you might develop symptoms very similar to the flu: fever, headaches and general weakness and discomfort. This might go on for days.

Then, you might feel itching sensation at the sight of the bite. Then, after a few days, you are going to be anxious, disoriented and confused. Later on, you will be delirious and will have an abnormal behavior. You probably won’t be able to sleep. The ending? It’s as if a living hell. The virus has finally taken over you

So, take the shots – it will only be a series of four to five shots, and you can sleep sound at night knowing that nothing as bad as what’s in store for you can happen.

Cebu City Health Department versus Private Hospital/Emergency Room

I was once bitten by a stray cat three years ago, and I went to a private hospital to get vaccinated. It cost me a around Php 8,000 for the complete shots. This can go higher depending on the hospital or clinic you’ll go to.

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This time, I opted to go to Cebu City Health Department as they offer free treatment and management of animal bite. Part of their services is the series of shots including the RIG administration.

For both private and public clinics or centers, you will receive the SAME vaccination. The only difference is that you’ll get attended faster in private clinics as compared in City health department. After all, this is free and public service so expect a long queue. But, when it comes to the quality of the vaccination, there is no difference, at all.

Misconceptions About Rabies

This World Rabies Day, find out the truth behind common misconceptions so you can stay informed and help others stay safe.

Rabies is only transmitted through animal bites. FALSE.

Rabies is transmitted through contact with the saliva of an infected animal. Bites are the most common mode of Rabies transmission but the virus can be transmitted when saliva enters any open wound or mucus membrane (such as the mouth, nose, or eye). As a result, licks or scratches from rabid animals can also transmit the virus.

All dogs and cats have rabies. FALSE.

This is a myth. Rabies is caused by a virus. This virus is commonly found in body fluids of a rabid animal, especially in the saliva. Transmission is usually carried out when they bite, or lick on broken skin. Unless your pup or kitten has come in contact with rabid animals, your little pet is free from rabies.

Rabies is not curable. FALSE.

Rabies is always life-threatening especially when left untreated. However, there is still a slim chance of survival after getting infected. This is through getting immediate treatment with a series of shots that prevent the infection.

Think Prevention

Many animal bites can be prevented. After all, prevention is always better than cure.

  • Vaccinate your pets. Animals should be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Keep your pets confined. Supervise your pets when you’re outside.
  • Avoid teasing pets or stray animals. Handle your pets gently. For the case of stray animals, do not pet them unless you know them.
  • Participate in TNVR Programs. Contact any animal rescue groups or organizations if you wish to volunteer for Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) programs. This program doesn’t only help in controlling stray animal population, but also helps in vaccinating them to avoid the spread of virus.

Would you like to volunteer? Feel free to contact Paw Pantry Mission in Cebu City for any volunteering opportunities.

Contact Information

Cebu City Health Department

Address: Gen. Maxilom Ext. Cebu City, Philippines 6000
Tel no: (032) 415 5170
Website: Cebu City Health Department


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November 20, 2021 11:38 am

thank you so muychh

July 5, 2021 12:19 am

the post is comprehensive

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