Rabies, Avian Flu Under Control


The outbreaks of rabies and avian flu in Bali have started to ease in the last three months, an official says.

I Putu Sumantara, head of the Bali Animal Husbandry office, said that the provincial administration had enforced the one-health management system effectively.

“There were no reports of humans infected by the rabies virus in the last three months,” Sumantara said. While in early October, there was only one case of a dog being affected in Kaliakah village, Jembrana.

“The affected dog has already been given the vaccination to prevent the virus from spreading,” he said.

The provincial administration has pledged to eliminate rabies in Bali, but until early October, reports from the field still revealed some cases.

However, zoonotic diseases come and go depending on environmental and sanitary conditions.

“We have to continue anticipating possible outbreaks of animal-based diseases in this transitional period from the dry to the wet season as of late October,” Sumantara said.

The animal husbandry office is now closely working with the health agency to empower community health centers to tackle outbreaks of both avian flu and rabies at a rural level.

Unfortunately, community health centers have a shortage of doctors, medical personnel, as well as the necessary equipment.

In addition to healthcare centers, every village also needs a care center for animals.

In Tabanan and Buleleng regencies, farmers were still reporting cases of avian flu and rabies affecting their animals.

In Jembrana and Bangli regencies, two cases of rabies occurred in September. In the same month, Buleleng saw avian flu cases in several villages.

Sumantara said that the pattern of avian flu emerged soon after large-scale rituals in Bali when many people used poultry as part of their offerings.

“During celebrations, people need abundant amounts of chickens and pigs for offerings, some of them were procured from other islands without adequate biosecurity checking,” he said.

The agency reported that human deaths from rabies had decreased by more than 90 percent since 2010, dropping significantly from 11 deaths in the month of August 2010 to less than one per month in 2012. The agency attributed this decrease to the successful mass vaccination of dogs across Bali.

To date, 158,000 dogs have been vaccinated during the current third round. Of these, 70 percent are stray dogs, known to be the most at risk from catching and transmitting rabies. The remaining 100,000 dogs will be vaccinated over the coming month to complete the third round of the program.

The resort island has been struggling against rabies since late 2008 when the first cases of the deadly disease were found in two villages in southern Badung. At the peak of the epidemic, as many as 281 villages across the island were affected. So far, the disease has claimed at least 148 human lives.

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