Confirmed cases of rabies now stretch to all four corners of Bali with rabid dogs now detected in two communities at Sambirenteg, Tejakula in the Buleleng regency, North Bali. Officials in Buleleng are responding by educating the local community on preventive steps to stop the further spread of the disease. Local authorities are also in the process of eliminating stray dogs on a village by village basis in combination with a program of vaccination for the local pet dog populations.
Meanwhile, Bali's provincial government has pledged to make Bali "Rabies Free" by 2012, three years ahead of the earlier announced target of 2015.
Jakarta Globe quotes Tjandra Yoga Aditama of the Indonesian Health Ministry as saying because of Bali's role as a tourism icon the island was being prioritized in the national fight against rabies, saying: "This is an important battle given Bali's role as a world-class tourist destination and its strategic contribution to the national economy. If we are late acting on this issue, the disease could have a negative impact and spread to other areas."
From an initial case one year ago isolated in Bali's southernmost regency of Badung, rabies cases have now been confirmed to have spread island wide with cases reported in Gianyar, Tabanan, Bangli, Karangasem and Buleleng. At least 15 human fatalities have been linked to the current outbreak.
Rabies control units are now in operation in six regions of Bali offering anti-rabies vaccine for those who are bitten by potentially rabid animals.
Current estimates are that 26,705 dogs have been culled from a total dog population put at 500,000 animals.
Kompas.com reports that Rp. 2.4 billion (US$240,000) is being allocated in 2010 to prevent the spread of rabies. A total of Rp. 8 billion (US$800,000) has been spent in 2009 in Bali in the fight against rabies.
Officials in Bali insist that any shortage of vaccine is only momentary, tied to supply-chain issues and not a lack of funding to secure vaccine.
Yoga Aditama is recommending that Bali set up rabies centers in all of Bali's regencies and municipalities to help meet the 2012 target for elimination of the disease and quickly address any new cases discovered in the coming months.
Nation-wide Indonesia reports confirmed cases of rabies in 24 of its 33 provinces, with the worst affected areas in North Sulawesi and South Sulawesi.
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