Deaths from Rabies ‘in Decline’
Fewer than one person a month has died from rabies in Bali so far this year, a drop of more than 90 percent since August 2010, when the island was ravaged by the disease, according to the authorities.
“As a result of successful mass vaccination of dogs across Bali, human deaths from rabies have reduced by over 90 percent since 2010, decreasing from 11 deaths in the month of August 2010 to less than one per month in 2012,” said a statement from the Animal Husbandry Department this week.
The department said that it had received an additional 67,000 doses of rabies vaccine this week as part of a programme funded by the central government, and Australia and the United States.
The vaccines would be “used to continue the third round of mass dog vaccination programme which started at the end of March 2012. The vaccine has been delivered to each district to continue vaccination activities,” said the department.
An additional 53,000 doses of vaccine were scheduled for arrival “in the near future” and would be sued for another round of vaccinations.
Last month, however, there was a shortage of vaccines that caused a halt in vaccinations of stray dogs, the main carrier of the rabies virus.
“However, there have been ongoing significant activities by prioritising socialisation activities to improve community awareness of the danger of rabies, addressing emergency vaccination needs around positive cases, and completing vaccination in several villages that have not reached 70 percent,” the department said.
“The temporary break has had no detrimental effect on the spread of rabies because the Bali dog population still has sufficient immunity due to the result of the previous two rounds of mass vaccination.”
Vaccination teams would continue to search for unvaccinated stray dogs and immunise them against the killer virus, said the department.
“The regency-based rapid response teams will also continue to respond to bite cases by investigation, response and emergency vaccination and continue to work closely with their counterparts in the Bali Health Service,” it added.
The latest available figures show that around 158,000 dogs were vaccinated in the latest round of immunisation, some 70 percent of which were stray dogs. A further 100,000 dogs are targeting for vaccination during the next few months.
Bali’s rabies outbreak began in late 2008 and has claimed close to 150 lives. A government target to have Bali rabies-free by the end of 2011 failed. Officials said a subsequent target of the end of this year also would not be possible.
Some have questioned the wisdom of allowing many hundreds of thousands of stray dogs to wander the streets, posing an ongoing risk to human health that goes beyond rabies and includes a cause of traffic accidents.