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Rabies Death Toll in Bali Now Put at 93

Bali Provincial Government Insists that Culling and Inoculation of Island's Dog Population Must Press Ahead.

(9/6/2010) Bali's Rabies epidemic continues to plague the island. According to Radar Bali, a total of 93 people have died from suspected rabies spread from dog bites, despite massive expenditures and efforts to inoculate pet dogs and eliminate stray animals.

Ketut Teneng, the spokesman for the Bali provincial government, said that 93 people have died after suffering dog bites. Of that total, he said, 41 of those deaths were clinically linked to rabies through laboratory tests on the victims. The remaining victims were buried without aid of laboratory test but after exhibiting symptoms consistent with a rabies infection.

The number of new dog bites reported in Bali remains very high. On an average day 165 people are bitten by dogs in Bali, adding to widespread fear among visitors and local of the danger of contamination with a potentially fatal disease.

Teneng said the elimination of stray dogs must continue, adding "this does not have to done by government officials who kill the dogs, but also by the public who undertake the elimination of stray animals."

Saying the threat of infection is before "our very eyes," Teneng pointed to the high number of stray dogs living in Bali resulting in a greater risk of dog bites and possible infection with rabies. "We have a clear choice, do you want to get rabies or not? If we allow the dog population to grow it means the chance of getting rabies is also high," said Teneng.

Teneng said that for the year 2010 through September 2nd, a total of 37,901 dog bites have been inflicted on Bali residents. From that total, 34,485 victims have been treated with rabies anti-serum. These figures show a dramatic increase over 2009 when only 21,806 dog bite were reported of which 18,825 victims received anti-rabies serum.

According to the chief health officer for Bali, Dr. Nyoman Sutedja, the costs of fighting rabies in Bali is substantial. In 2009 the provincial government of Bali spent Rp. 6.5 billion, Bali regencies Rp. 3.5 billion and the central government contributed Rp. 15 billion to Bali's anti-rabies campaign resulting in total expenditures of Rp. 25 billion (US$2.7 million).

In 2010 the total spent in combating rabies is expected to rise.

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