Rabies cases on decline in Bali as first round of vaccination completed

WSPAs Elly Hiby holds a puppy while BAWA vet vaccinates it against rabies.

WSPAs Elly Hiby holds a puppy while BAWA vet vaccinates it against rabies.

The island-wide vaccination campaign in Bali has successfully achieved the first milestone: completion of the first round of vaccination.

Teams in Bali have vaccinated approximately 210,000 dogs (70% of the estimated total dog population), in 4,126 villages across Bali over the last one year, marking the completion of the first phase of the anti-rabies campaign. Most notably, this achievement is accompanied by a marked decrease in the number of both human and dog cases of rabies, thus proving the efficacy of the ongoing campaign.

Speaking on behalf of the Bali government, Ir. Putu Sumantra, the Head of the Bali Animal Husbandry Agency said, “The first phase of the mass vaccination program showed a good result. We are going to continue the mass vaccination program - being more effective and targeted in 2011, to ensure Bali will be free of rabies in 2012.”

Statistically sound evidence

According to the latest statistics, comparing the period between 1st December 2010 and 30th March 2011 against the same period in 2010 shows:

  • A decrease of 48% in the number of human rabies cases; and

  • A decrease of 45% in the number of cases of rabies in dogs.

Ray Mitchell, Campaigns Director for WSPA said, “This is a real achievement in the fight against rabies in Bali, and one that proves that a humane approach to rabies control works to benefit both human health and animal welfare. The success of the campaign is, in no small part, due to the fact that it is in keeping with Balinese culture, and has therefore enjoyed mass support from top regency officials to village headmen and small family units too.”

The objective of the Bali programme is to eradicate rabies from the island, maintaining the immune status of at least 70% of the island’s estimated population of 300,000 dogs by subsequent rounds of vaccination.

Working together to end rabies in Bali

Bali’s humane rabies control programme is being led by the Government’s provincial and regency livestock departments, with operational support from the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA), Yudisthira Animal Welfare and Indonesian Animal Welfare (InAW). The programme currently employs more than 400 Balinese people, with all field staff having been pre-vaccinated to ensure their health and safety.

International scientists and disease control experts (such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) recommend mass vaccination of the animal reservoir species (in Bali’s case, this is dogs) as the most effective means of controlling and eradicating rabies. This creates a barrier to the spread of the disease, leading to its eradication.

Established model for success

This scientifically proven mode – including humane euthanasia of rabid and incurably sick dogs, as well as unvaccinated dogs that are bitten by a suspect dog - is in accordance with animal welfare principles. It also positions the Bali Government as a leader at a time when there is increasing international interest in animal welfare.  The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is currently implementing an animal welfare strategy for its Asia, Far East and Oceania region, which includes Indonesia.

Programs that educate the Balinese people about rabies, including prevention measures and post-bite procedures are also being run.

The first round of mass vaccinations included funding support from the Australian Government, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The programme also has the support of international organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and others.

Janice Girardi, Director of BAWA, said, “If the mass vaccination and other supporting program is continued in 2011 we will see a continued decline in human deaths, but people must still remain vigilant, reporting each bite and seeking medical treatment after first washing the wound with soap and water.”

To read more about BAWA, please click here to visit their website.

Read more about the launch of the vaccination campaign in Bali.

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