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The Dog that Came to Stay

Bali Remains in State of Rabies Alert, While Health Officials Declare Rabies an Endemic Disease

(2/19/2012) Despite a downturn in the number of rabies cases and reports of dog bites, officials in Bali are now denying earlier reports that the level of island-wide alert warning for rabies has been downgraded, insisting that an “extraordinary alert level” for rabies remain in effect.

As reported by The Bali Post, Dr. Nyoman Sutedja, Chief of the Bali Health Service, has termed rabies in Bali, like dengue fever, as an endemic disease on the Island in which each month new cases of dog bite are reported.

“Endemic means that the disease or the agent of infection is continuously found in a specific area or can be said to be an illness that is generally found in a known geographic area,” Dr. Sutedja explained on Monday. February 13, 2012.

In combatting rabies in Bali, the Bali Health service is not only providing anti-rabies vaccine (VAR) but is also striving to provide adequate supplies of anti-rabies serum (SAR). In recent months, SAR has been in short supply in Bali and the Health Service has just given 25 ampoules of SAR to the Sanglah General Hospital in Bali.

Sutedja complained that Bali is not receiving an adequare supply of SAR from Jakarta to meet the demand for the serum from the numerous dog bit victims.

Sutedja said that SAR is now only administered to dog bite victims with wounds in dangerous areas of the body, such as the shoulder and above, or for very serious bites. He also noted that SAR is both expensive and has a short shelf life, meaning it must be used before its expiration date.

Discussing the number of dog bites, Sutedja said the number of reported bites remain high, numbering 54,000 in 2011. This figure, however, declined from the 64,000 bite cases reported in 2010. The number of deaths attributed to rabies fell from 83 in 2010 to only 23 in 2011.