New Rabies Death Sparks Fear Crisis Far from Over


A woman died of suspected rabies last week, raising concerns that efforts to rid Bali of the deadly disease by the end of the year may not be successful.

The woman, 55-year-old Made Wanti from Puseh hamlet in Ketewel, Gianyar, died last Thursday suffering from rabies-like symptoms.

“The clinical symptoms make the doctors suspect that Wanti died of rabies,” said Ken Wiransadhi, head of the rabies team at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar where Wanti was brought for treatment before she died.

She had reportedly been bitten by a dog two years ago, but had not sought post-bite vaccination.

Three people have died of confirmed rabies so far this year, putting the rate of occurrence well below that in 2011, when a total of 26 confirmed rabies deaths occurred.

Last year 83 people died of the disease, and since the start of the outbreak in late 2008 there have been 144 confirmed fatalities.

After various unsuccessful efforts to control the outbreak, an ongoing programme of vaccination for dogs with limited culling in some areas appears to be bringing the disease under control.

Wiransadhi said that despite the easing risk it was still vital that anyone bitten by a dog should report to hospital immediately for post-bite vaccination.

He said that last year a total of 47,827 people reported for treatment after being bitten by a dog.

The head of the Bali Animal Husbandry Department, Putu Sumantra, said that people should remain alert to the danger of rabies, although he added that the threat had decreased markedly in the last two years.

According to Sumantra, 180,000 dogs have received vaccinations from an estimated total population of 302,000, most of them strays. Rabies is currently known to be present in five villages across Bali, he said. At the height of the outbreak the disease was identified in 276 villages.

Sumantra said that recent difficulties ensuring supply of vaccine for dogs had now been resolved and the vaccination programme was continuing.

“The vaccine supply problem has been resolved and there will be enough vaccine for all the dogs in Bali,” he said.

Following the most recent suspected case, a team from the provincial Health Department was sent to Ketewel. According to department chief Ketut Suarjaya, the dog that bit Wanti had also bitten other people, but they had received post-bite vaccination and had so far development no symptoms.

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