Officials in Bali have committed to ensuring that rabies vaccinations are widely available on the island following a recent rise in cases.
Governor Wayan Koster has announced that he is expediting the processes of vaccinating dogs on the island against rabies and is ensuring there is plenty of stock of vaccination.
Speaking to reporters from Denpasar, Governor Koster said, “We are accelerating the vaccination process.
As of today, we have reached 51% of the completion, and we still have quite a lot of vaccines available.” The vaccine Governor Koster is referring to is the anti-rabies vaccination for dogs.
All around Bali, there are vaccination campaigns underway. In the capital city, Denpasar, four rabies vaccination centers have been set up for dog owners to bring their dogs for free vaccines.
Data that runs from January 2023 until the end of May shows that there were 2,800 reported dog bites in Bali. This, compared to the same time period in 2022, shows that dog bites have doubled, with just 1,300 in 2022.
Although the vast majority of dog bite cases were reported on local people, some reported dog bites in 2023 have occurred in the popular resort areas of Badung Regency and Ginayar Regency, like Ubud.
Governor Koster has announced tatters for eliminating rabies in Bali as soon as possible. He has also received assistance from the Government of Australia, which will provide 200,000 rabies vaccinations that are set to arrive on the 1st of July, 2023.
Governor Koster said, “We are aiming to achieve zero deaths due to rabies in Bali by 2024 and zero rabies cases in both humans and animals by 2028.” Sadly zero rabies deaths will not be achieved in 2023.
Tragically on the 15th of June, a five-year-old girl from Buleleng died in the hospital after being diagnosed with rabies.
The girl was bitten by her family’s pet dog a month prior to her death, and since the dog had previously bitten other members of the family with no serious health implications, her family thoroughly washed the small wound with soap and water.
The girl did not begin displaying rabies symptoms for a month; when she did start showing signs of rabies, five days before her passing, her parents took her to the hospital immediately. She became fearful of water (hydrophobia), a tell-tale symptom of advanced rabies. The dog has since been put down.
The vaccination drive has been hugely successful in Badung Regency so far. Of the nearly 90,000 known dogs in the regency, 70,102 have been vaccinated so far, and the campaign remains underway.
Badung Regency is Bali’s most popular tourism destination, home to resorts like Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Canggu, Jimbaran, Uluwatu, and Nusa Dua.
The Head of the Badung Health Office’s Disease Prevention and Control, I Made Suwadera, had called on the public, tourists included, to be vigilant and proactive when it comes to rabies prevention.
He is calling on all dog owners and community leaders to ensure that their pets, community-owned and known stray dogs, are vaccinated.
He is also calling on the public not to underestimate or dismiss any kind of dog bite. Once clinical symptoms of rabies appear, the virus proves to be fatal in nearly 100% of cases.
According to the World Health Organization, there are three key effective interventions for the prevention and management of rabies.
The first is awareness, educating communities around the world about the seriousness of the virus and the steps to keep safe.
The second intervention is post-exposure prophylaxis, which is a series of rabies vaccines administered after exposure to the virus, in addition to wound management.
The third most effective intervention is mass dog vaccination.
All three interventions are currently implemented across Bali.
Suwadera’s advice is, “Hopefully, people will come to the Rabies Center for bite cases. No matter how small the bite wound is, wash the wound in running water for 10 to 15 minutes and use soap and an antiseptic.”
If you have been bitten by a dog or monkey in Bali (or any other rabies-risk animal), be sure to follow the advice of the medical professional and visit a medical clinic immediately, no matter how small the bite, scratch, or wound may be.
More information about rabies protection can be found on the World Health Organization website.
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