Bali Strives to be Rabies-Free by 2015

JAKARTA ~

Bali has firmly resolved to be rabies-free by the year 2015, in order to maintain its reputation as the world’s most famous resort island.

Over the past few years, the Bali authorities have routinely carried out mass vaccination programs against rabies, targeting stray as well as domestic dogs.

Last year, 356 thousand dogs were inoculated, and this year, mass vaccination will be carried out yet again, for the fourth time, targeting at least 350 thousand dogs.

The mass vaccination campaign against rabies will be implemented between April and June 2014, Head of the Bali Animal Husbandry and Health Office Putu Sumantra recently noted in Denpasar, Bali.

The immunization program is estimated to cost around Rp12 billion and will include vaccine supply and field operations. Everyone in the province should be involved in the fight against rabies.

“Funds amounting to around Rp5.6 billion will be allocated from the Bali regional budget and Rp6.4 billion from the State Budget, towards realizing the mass vaccination program. The allocation set aside in the State Budget is bigger, as it will be used to procure the rabies vaccines. Currently, 105 thousand doses of the vaccine are available in Bali and an additional 250 thousand doses are required,” he explained.

In Bali, the number of rabies cases in humans has declined drastically over the recent years, thanks to the mass animal vaccination initiative.

However, Sumantra pointed out that the number of dog bite cases in Bali tends to be quite high, namely 100 bites per day.

“In the past few years, it was 130 bites per day. We hope the number of dog bite cases will decrease in the future,” he added.

The first rabies-related death case was reported in Bali in 2007. In 2008, four cases were recorded, while the year 2009 saw 48 cases. The largest number of cases was recorded in 2010, which were 82 cases. After the launch of the mass animal vaccination program in Bali, the number of reported rabies cases in humans has shown a decline. In 2011, 24 cases were recorded, and by 2012, only 8 cases had occurred. So far, 146 people have died due to rabies.

In 2013, Bali received an award from the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for its successful endeavor in significantly decreasing the number of rabies cases in humans and animals.

“Bali has been able to significantly curb the number of rabies cases, which is something that has never happened anywhere in the world until now,” Putu Sumantra claimed last year.

He explained that between July 2012 and April 2013, no cases of rabies in humans were recorded, while 145 rabies cases were reported before July 2012.

However, few months ago, dog bite cases re-surfaced in Bali when a rabid dog bit five people in the Gianyar District, Bali, in July 2013. The people, who were bitten later, received medical treatment and rabies vaccinations.

The reappearance of rabies poses as a new challenge for the island, which is striving to free itself from rabies by the year 2015.

Initially, Bali set a target to be rabies-free by 2012, but the re-emergence of rabies cases forced the province to revise its target to 2015.

“We have to revise our previous target of eliminating rabies in Bali by the year 2015,” Ketut Suarjaya, head of Bali Health Agency, informed the press last year.

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