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New Rabies Death Reported in Bali

Rabies Death Toll in Bali Slows But Continues to Rise with Latest Death on May 1, 2012

(5/13/2012) After being hospitalized for one day in the isolation ward of the Sanglah General Hospital in Denpasar, an unidentified 44-year-old patient, known only as KW, died on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 6:00 a.m..

As reported by Radar Bali, Dr. Ken Wirasandhi, who head the Rabies Treatment Center at the hospital, said the symptoms presented by KW were consistent with a diagnosis of rabies, suggesting the disease was already attacking the victim’s brain and central nervous system.

“Rabies is usually fatal if the infection has already spread to the brain and nervous system. The administration of anti-rabies serum at this stage is too late and ineffective, “ explained dr. Wirasandhi.

The rabies vaccine spreads at varying rates before reaching the victims brain, depending on the location of the original wound and that wound's distance from the head. In some cases, it can take an entire year for the infection to spread to the brain.

Health officials urge anyone bitten by a dog to immediately clean the wound with soap for a minimum 10-15 minutes followed by an urgent visit to the nearest rabies center for the administration anti-rabies serum (VAR). If administered quickly after an infectious bite, VAR is effectives in preventing the fatal form of the disease.

The latest victim of rabies reportedly refused to seek treatment from a local health center or hospital after being bitten in Karangasem.

The positive identification of the rabies virus in the latest death is subject to final laboratory evaluation in Jakarta.

While the supply of VAR is free, hospitals and health center are known to charge patients a “handling charge” when administering the drug.

While official in Bali insist that the number of reported dog bites and confirmed rabies death have decreased greatly in recent months, the latest death add to the more than 130 people who have died from rabies in Bali since 2010.