"..a bardy view!"

The Philippines and Rabid Enthusiasm……

An update from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises travellers to the Philippines that Rabies is a serious problem. They regularly give updates to their advice (which has not changed overall as they are keen to point out).

Anyone contemplating a visit to the Pearl of the Orient would think twice if they took this stuff seriously. Typhoons, kidnappings, rabies, terrorism, warnings against travel to certain parts, entrapment, sea travel, road travel and so on – the list is endless. Yet I'm challenged to recognise any of these as dangers – but then again, I'm biased.

But is it really necessary to post a bulletin about rabies? Most travellers anywhere must be fairly savvy to beware of dogs, particularly in countries in the Far East, but this problem is equally present in Latin America, Africa, India, China and certain parts of Europe. Rabies in the UK is rare which is no doubt a result of the draconian quarantine laws, yet the infection does not have to come from canines.

All warm blooded animals are potential carriers of the virus, and they in turn can infect domestic livestock. India has the highest number of infected humans, mainly from stray dogs. China, Vietnam and Thailand follow close behind. Yet the tourist boom to these countries is increasing, and rabies is very low on the radar of most visitors.

The Philippines rank fifth on the World Health Organisation (WHO) of high endemicity or prevalence, where on average 400 Filipinos die of Rabies each year – half of which are children – and invariably the cases are specifically regional. Yet common sense dictates that avoidance of stray dogs or any animal which displays dangerous tendencies is a smart move.

The British like to get up close and personal with their pets, especially dogs, and for some reason they all believe that they have special powers to bond with them be they in Devon or the Dominican Republic. That is not a viable course of action in the Philippines, or any other country aforementioned.

Dogs are treated differently in the Philippines, and the faint hearted can be distressed by their plight, but an act of kindness could be misconstrued. Our faithful friends are not human, and don't hold the maxim of "dont bite the hand that feeds you". So beware.

Nevertheless, I have noticed an increase of dogs being regarded as pets in the Philippines, which although commendable is still not a guarantee of safety. When in doubt don't! Its worth noting that although there was a slight increase in Philippines Rabies Morbidity Rates in 2007, that was still a good 70% less than in 2001.

So lets get down to the knuckle. the UK (just like other countries) give advice to raise awareness, but equally they can cause unnecessary concern. Its a fail-safe device, intended to limit their consulate's or embassy's responsibility. Remember that travel insurance companies can easily make a policy redundant if they can suggest that you did not heed official advice. So check your policy and make sure that you adhere to their terms and conditions.

The fact is that if every tourist plodded through the pages of concerned information provided by their governments, few would bother to get on a plane.

My advice is take everything with a pinch of salt, identify risk, and above all exercise common sense.

Oh, and by the way – be daring and visit the Philippines. Everyone loves an adventure, and everyone loves to talk about it.The Philippines is one of the few countries left in the world where the word adventure actually means something.

Go on, be adventurous!


December 14, 2010 - Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Dogs, Education, General, The Philippines, Travel, United Kingdom | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. The number of cases of rabies in the Philippines which currently ranks fourth worldwide in incidence of the disease is increasing, despite government promises to rid the country of the problem by 2020.


    Comment by philippines classified ads | January 17, 2011 | Reply

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