Savage Cull Slashes Rabies ‘Reservoir’ in Buleleng
Buleleng’s estimated dog population has been culled by two thirds since 2009 when Bali’s authorities conceded rabies was a major threat to the human population, in a hitherto undisclosed eradication campaign in the regency.
The figures came to light last week when Buleleng’s chief animal husbandry officer, I Putu Mertha Juni, announced that at least as far as his regency was concerned the 2012 target for declaring Bali rabies free was now an achievable objective.
He said on that in 2009 Buleleng had an estimated dog population of 141,000 but this had been reduced to 48,986 by the end of 2010.
“We release these numbers to awaken the public to pay more attention and be alert to the fact that their pets have the potential to spread rabies, and that if all of us work together we can jointly solve the problem,” he said.
But Mertha warned it was too early to let down the guard against the threat, saying his agency would continue its public education campaign to ensure people understood they needed to have the post-exposure anti-rabies vaccination course if they were bitten.
“We continue counselling, anticipating the next mass dog vaccination effort, and advise that the final step people can take is to eliminate animals that have the potential to spread rabies such as dogs, cats and others,” he said.
The observed reduction in the dog population mirrors a decline in suspected rabies cases in the regency. Buleleng Hospital director-general Dr Nyoman Mardana said this week there were 18 cases in 2009 but only four in 2010.
He said no one had admitted to hospital in Buleleng with suspected rabies symptoms so far this year but 32 people had had anti-rabies injections.
Dr Mardana repeated warning that people must be very cautious, especially to ensure children under five did not get bitten because most small children are bitten on the neck or head and that very quickly transmitted the virus the central nervous system.
Once rabies reaches the central nervous system and symptoms appear it is invariably fatal.
A total of 125 people are listed as having died of rabies in Bali since the outbreak was officially recognised late in 2008.
Last year local and foreign animal activists persuaded Governor I Made Mangku Pastika to opt for a policy of mass dog vaccination instead of culls.Filed under: Headlines