Philippines orders treatment of 13 people, including 9 children, who ate dog with rabies

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine health officials are treating 13 people after it was discovered that they had eaten meat from a dog that was later diagnosed with rabies, a city veterinarian said on Sunday.

The discovery that the four adults and nine children had eaten the infected dog meat came during an investigation into a suspected rabies case in the outskirts of the southern city of Zamboanga, said local government veterinarian Mario Arriola.

The dog had died mysteriously last week, Dr Arriola told AFP. "We went to the place to investigate if it bit other animals. We had them chop off the head and send it to the laboratory for an examination," he said.

It was only after the examination confirmed that the dog had rabies that it was learned that the animal's meat had been served up by local residents. "We were informed that the adults ate the diseased dog. They did not know it was positive for rabies. Unfortunately, there were some kids who ate it too," he said.

Zamboanga's local health department is giving all those who ate the meat the required four anti-rabies injections to ensure they do not develop the fatal disease, he added.

Dr Arriola said they ordered the swift action as part of the government's effort to eradicate human deaths from rabies. He said that in 2014, for the first time in recorded history, no one died of rabies in the Philippines.

Although butchering dogs for food is illegal in the Philippines, dog meat is still a popular delicacy that is eaten discreetly in certain quarters.