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Rabies Deaths Mount, Officials Scramble for Serum

Bali's Sanglah Hospital Unable to Stock Sufficient Anti-Rabies Serum to Treat Bali's Dog Bite Victims.

(10/12/2009) Human deaths continue to mount in Bali ongoing epidemic of rabies with another fatality confirmed on Thursday, October 8, 2009, of a 54 year-old Balinese at the Sanglah General Hospital. The man, from the Kedongnan area of South Kuta, died after reporting to the hospital with symptoms consistent with the rabies virus. The man was bitten by a dog two month's earlier at his residence.

The latest death is fueling growing criticism of the seemingly haphazard way in which Bali officials are dealing with the disease, including the inoculation of local dogs and insufficient supplies of human anti-rabies vaccine to treat those suffering dog bits with a one-treatment four-injection regime.

NusaBali reports that tens of patients reporting the Sanglah General Hospital in Denpasar for anti-rabies vaccine are being turned away due to the lack vaccine supplies.

The Secretary of the Rabies Control Team at Sanglah Hospital, Dr. IGB Ken Wirasandhi, blamed supply problems on the large number of dog-bite cases that can equal 150 in a single day and the fact that all anti-rabies serum must be imported into Indonesia.

Each anti-rabies serum kit for treating humans costs the government US$120 dollars each and consists of four ampoules. Two shots are administered at the site of the bite and the two remaining dosages in each arm of the patient.

Health regulations mandate that people bitten by potentially rabid animals be treated without charge.

On Wednesday, October 7, 2009, NusaBali reported that there were no anti-rabies serum stocks available at Sanglah General Hospital, the second time this has occurred in recent weeks.

The hospital has treated some 10,432 suspect-rabies patients since December 2009 with 12 patients succumbing to the disease at the hospital.