BALI’S RABIES CRISIS: Two More Deaths Bring Toll to 45

DENPASAR
The Bali Times

TWO more people have died of suspected rabies at Denpasar’s Sanglah Hospital. They were a 30-year-old woman from Tembuku in Bangli and a man from Bebandem in Karangasem.

Both were admitted to Sanglah’s isolation ward last Monday with advanced rabies-like symptoms and both had been bitten by dogs. Both died the following day.

Sanglah’s rabies treatment chief, Dr Ken Wirasandhi, said on Wednesday that tissue sampling would determine whether they had died of rabies. If so, their deaths bring Bali’s official rabies toll to 45.

But there was happy news for the parents of a toddler from Gianyar has been cleared of rabies infection following hospital tests after he was badly bitten by a stray dog last week.

The child was taken to Sanglah Hospital from his home at Chedi with back and neck wounds from the dog attack.

The child was given anti-rabies serum but later tests proved the rabies virus was not present in or near the wounds. Sanglah’s rabies treatment chief, Dr Ken Wirasandhi, said last weekend: “The patient has already been sent home.”

Meanwhile, in Buleleng authorities say their rabies control plan is failing because of community antipathy to culling and general unawareness of the danger from rabies.

They say the dog vaccination programme isn’t working properly and the local authorities aren’t paying people enough when they cull an unvaccinated pet.

And most villages in the regency are not cooperating with officials who visit areas on anti-rabies work, according to Buleleng animal husbandry chief Wayan Tjarik, a veterinarian.

But people are still rushing to get human anti-rabies serum because of increased awareness of the danger of bites from unknown dogs.

Tjarik said last week that from December 2009 to February 2010 Buleleng used 22,000 doses of anti-rabies animal vaccine, but the regency is estimated to have 41,000 dogs meaning 60 percent of dogs are still unvaccinated.

He said the chief problem was that people still let their pet dogs roam freely and these animals were therefore not available when a vaccination team arrived in a village.

Tjarik said the culling programme was also in difficulty because people would not surrender their dogs even when there was reasonable suspicion that animals in the area were carrying rabies.

“We fear public reaction if dogs are killed without permission, so now we eliminate them only if a community requests this,” he said.

Up to 2,000 dogs have been culled in Buleleng according to official figures.

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