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Bali Free of Rabies by 2015

Bali Administration Confident Bali Now Nearly Rabies Free

(4/5/2013) The Bali provincial administration is confident that Bali will achieve “rabies free” status by 2015. 

“It could be possible that Bali will be free of rabies because the last rabies case found in a human was last April,” said Head of Bali’s Health Agency, I Ketut Suarjaya, on Tuesday.

To qualify for “rabies free” status Bali is required to have two consecutive years without any cases of rabies in an animal or human, the Jakarta Post reports.

Rabies cases in Bali have been steadily decreasing since numbers the number of reported cases peaked in 2010 at 82 cases. This high numbers of cases led to a mass vaccination program for dogs across the island, precipitating and a drastic decrease in the number of reported cases. In 2011, 24 cases of rabies infections among humans were reported, and in 2012 that figure declined to only 8.

The distribution of the rabies vaccination has now become more selective, says Sanglah Hospital’s secretary of the rabies mitigation team, Dr. Ken Wiransadhi. Free rabies vaccinations are provided by state-owned hospitals for individuals presenting with dog bite injuries to vital organs, the head, face, fingers or genitalia. The vaccination is also prioritized for individuals suffering multiple and deep wounds inflicted by stray dogs.

The vaccine is also available for purchase.

The Bali Health Agency currently has 5,000 vials of vaccine, 750 of which have been distributed to the regencies. This level is sufficient to guard approximately 1,250 people against rabies over the coming months.

Currently only 2 percent of dog bites are now testing positive for rabies.

Meanwhile, work to ensure Bali reaches “rabies free” status continues. Head of Bali’s Animal Husbandry Agency, Putu Sumantra, announced that all of the 300,000 dogs in Bali would be vaccinated in stage four of the administration’s inoculation program, set to run from mid-April until June of this year.

It is estimated that throughout stage three, approximately 250,000 dogs, or 80 per cent of Bali’s dog population were vaccinated. 500 of these were also de-sexed to curb the population of feral dogs.

The spokesman for the National Commission on Zoonosis, Arie Rukmantara, concurs that the 2015 target is achievable, considering the drop in the number of rabies cases since 2008 when the first case of rabies in Bali was found in Jimbaran.

Rukmantara has said that the main challenge in Bali was maintaining resident’s commitment and participation in the public vaccination program. Adding, “If an outbreak occurs for several years, it is crucial to maintain the commitment of local people to participate in the eradication efforts.”

Chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Association of Veterinarians, I Gusti Ngurah Mahardika, suggests that since the peak rabies period in 2008-09, Balinese communities have not adapted the way they care for their dogs. “There’s only been a small change in attitude in the way they care for their dogs. 

The dogs are still let loose to look for food on the streets,” Mahardika said. “Dogs do bite. Thus, preventing them from contracting rabies is most important.”

It is imperative that communities vaccinate their dogs regularly, to assist Bali achieve “rabies free” status. Mahardika said that the best method for preventing rabies is the regular vaccination of dogs as well as raising public awareness of the urgent need for human vaccinations if and individual has been bitten by a dog.

Residents are expected to bring their dogs to have the free vaccination as part of the Bali-wide program.

Contributed by Nahhan Prudy.

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