Rabies Control – Now

There is considerable anger among animal-welfare activists in Bali over the authorities’ culling of dogs in an attempt to wipe out the rabies epidemic, a programme being carried out in tandem with mass vaccinations.

While both sides argue over which method is best for rendering Bali rabies-free, and point to elimination case studies as examples, the death toll from the disease continues to rise, and is now around 30 since the outbreak was identified in late 2008.

One solution is overarchingly clear, and with an immediate effect: Clear the streets of severe levels of wild dogs. Take away the virus’ transmitter and the problem vanishes. It is that simple. It goes much further than just culling packs of dogs; it eradicates them entirely from public areas.

With all the culling and vaccination attempts, it only takes a few feral canines to vector rabies, which in late-stage in humans is almost always incurable and leads to an excruciatingly painful death.

All animals need to be controlled, including pets. In Bali, the dog population has long been out of control, and allowed to wander the streets at will, taking bites out of passersby – including, perilously, motorbike riders – as they go.

In the case of owned dogs, this is hugely irresponsible and has played a large part in the crisis: An overwhelming number of people seeking anti-rabies injections at hospitals report that they were bitten by wild dogs.

The government has now regulated that all dogs in Bali be either kept within the home environment or, if outdoors, on a leash. But this sound edict is being roundly ignored by the population, and there is no enforcement to speak of.

Authorities are now patrolling in specially equipped dog-snatching vans. The sooner they round up all the troublesome strays, the better it will be for Bali.

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