22 Now Dead of Rabies in Spreading Outbreak

TABANAN ~ Bali’s official rabies death toll reached 22 this week with the deaths of two more victims in Tabanan, Bali’s worst-affected regency, which now accounts for half the island’s rabies fatalities.

A 28-year-old father of two originally from neighbouring Buleleng died on Monday after being attacked and bitten by a dog two months ago while he was feeding chickens in Pesagi village in Penebel, Tabanan.

The man’s wife said her husband had ignored her advice to seek out the anti-rabies vaccine and a local paramedic, who had no vaccine to administer, had recommended scrubbing the wound and applying ointment.

The wound had healed but two months later the man had developed a high temperature and convulsions, his wife said.

The man was turned away from a local hospital when he had sought treatment for severe pain on December 6. Two days later, unable to stand his pain or swallow food or liquid, he was referred to the rabies unit at Tabanan Hospital.

Laboratory test results on December 11 confirmed the man had rabies, Tabanan hospital director Dr Agus Bintang Suryadi said.

After five days in hospital the patient lost consciousness and died next day.

His body was taken home to Banyusri village in the Banjar district of Buleleng.

The second new Tabanan victim, a 45-year-old woman, died in the rabies isolation room at 6am last Saturday.

The woman was bitten on the leg by a dog on Jl Rajawali in Dauh Peken village in Tabanan district in September. The bleeding wound was washed with soap and water.

The victim’s husband said she had received an injection for the wound, which had gradually healed, but that she had been taken to Tabanan Hospital complaining of back pain on December 10.

She was treated and discharged but returned the same afternoon with severe back pain, headaches and shortness of breath.

Seven of Bali’s nine districts have been declared rabies zones since the deadly disease was identified in the Bukit area of Badung in the island’s southern tourism region in November 2008.

There is no cure for rabies once a patient exhibits symptoms and modern palliative care involves managing the symptoms and pain control to making patients as comfortable as possible.

The Bali Health Department this week provided The Bali Times with its official death count from rabies in Bali, saying it was 22.

Its chief, Dr Nyoman Suteja, said: “Bali has the highest incidence of rabies of any province in Indonesia.”

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