Rabies Seen on Decrease as Dog Owners Told to Act Responsibly
Tests on dogs in 10 villages in Bali in the past 12 months showed no signs of rabies, but elsewhere three dogs tested positive for the killer disease, the island’s Animal Husbandry Department chief has said.
Putu Sumantra told a press conference in Denpasar on Friday that the results indicated Bali was winning its two-year war against the virus that has claimed at least 120 lives.
“From the samples we can see there is a tendency of a decrease. For example, from 11 dog brains that we sent (for testing) only three were positive. Before, it was high enough,” he said.
The sampling was carried out in villages in Denpasar, Badung and Gianyar, he said.
Since last September the department has been working with the Bali Animal Welfare Association in Ubud in carrying out a rabies-vaccination programme on dogs around the island, in place of a previous policy of culling.
Sumantra said on Friday that the scheme was now 79-percent complete, and that the dog population of Bali was estimated at around 400,000. Only 70 percent of those are being inoculated against rabies, a threshold it is thought will prevent the virus from replicating. Booster shots are to follow at later dates.
The authorities are rushing to eradicate Bali from rabies by the end of next year as international headlines have warned off some would-be visitors to Bali, whose main income is generated from tourism. The Australian and United States governments have issued travel advisories cautioning their citizens from travelling to Bali due to the rabies risk.
Sumantra also said that Bali would be readying 750 quarantine cages to house stray dogs in villages around Bali, and he would be reminding the human population of the island to take responsible care of their animals and not allow them to freely roam the streets.
“Dogs that are wandering around will be caught, but later, during the implementation of the vaccination programme, we will be asking the public to please keep their dogs tied up or in the yards of their homes.”
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