Bali dog & Jakarta cat rabies vaccination drives show rise in Indonesian awareness

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2011:
JAKARTA, BANTUL, UBUD–Amid rumors that
the Bali government will reinstitute aggressive
dog-killing when a new fiscal year begins in May
2011 came two hints from Jakarta that Indonesian
authorities may be starting to realize that only
high-volume vaccination lastingly reduces rabies
More than 150 people have died from
rabies on Bali since October 2008, more than 90%
of them infected before the Bali government
authorized the Bali Animal Welfare Association to
vaccinate dogs throughout the island, funded by
the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

BAWA had demonstrated the efficacy of high-volume
vaccination for a year and a half, holding human
rabies deaths in the densely populated Giyanyar
Regency area to just three, markedly fewer than
in adjacent regencies, while the central
government tried unsuccessfully to halt the
spread of rabies across the rest of the island
through culling dogs.
Indonesian agriculture ministry director
general for livestock and health Prabowo R.
Caturuso on February 5, 2011 announced the
allocation of $17.6 million over the next two
years to fund rabies prevention, primarily on
Bali and the islands of Nias in North Sumatra
province, and West Maluku Tenggara, in Maluku
“The funds are expected to be used to
purchase rabies vaccines and to monitor and
evaluate the implementation of prevention
programs,” said the Jakarta Post.
Bali is to receive 70% of the funding,
having had 77% of the reported bites by suspected
rabid dogs in Indonesia in 2010, and 119 of the
195 human rabies fatalities.
Five more Balinese died from rabies
during the first weeks of 2011, fueling renewed
fervor for killing dogs, but only one case–on
the offshore island of Nusa Penida–was actually
contracted from a dog bite occurring after the
BAWA vaccination drive went island-wide.
As of mid-February 2011, BAWA founder
Janice Girardi told ANIMAL PEOPLE, BAWA had
deployed 45 vaccination teams, including 50
veterinarians, 50 data recorders, and 250
dogcatchers, with five more teams in training.
Among them, they had vaccinated 169,000 dogs,
believed to be about 56% of the dog population of
Bali, expecting to vaccinate about 90,000 more.
The 70% vaccination threshold, believed to be
necessary to stop the spread of rabies, is
likely to be reached in May.
While the Indonesian national rabies
control budget was still in negotiation, Jakarta
animal health division chief Naniek Susetijoharti
on January 17, 2011 suspended charging 55¢
apiece to vaccinate cats. From now on, she
said, the agency would vaccinate pet cats–but
not ferals–for free, providing that the cats
are at least eight months old and healthy.
The program hopes to vaccinate at least
250 cats in 2011, Naniek Susetijoharti told the
Jakarta Post. Her agency vaccinated 286 cats,
1,621 dogs, and 49 pet monkeys in 2010.
Jakarta has officially been rabies-free
since 2004, but Naniek Susetijoharti hopes to
push the rate of vaccination up, lest infected
animals arrive from elsewhere in Indonesia.
Amid the encouraging signs pertaining to
rabies control, the Bantul city government
demonstrated that Indonesian authorities still
tend to lack even a basic understanding of how
zoonotic disease spreads. Responding to the
deaths of 19 people during the past two years
from the bacterial disease leptospirosis, which
thrives in rodent urine and spreads to humans and
other animals mainly through contaminated water,
the Bantul government declared a bounty of about
5¢ U.S. on rats.
The officially recommended strategy
“would be to fill rat nests with water and kill
rats as they emerged, according to the
administration,” reported Slamet Susanto of the
Jakarta Post. “Thousands of people, including
civil servants, students, police officers and
Indonesian military members, joined the drive at
a number of sites,” Slamet Susanto added.
The moderators of the International
Society for Infectious Diseases’ ProMed newsgroup
agreed that flooding rat middens to flush out
rats would amount to distributing leptospirosis
by the fastest and most efficient means possible.
“While they may get some rats, this will
not get rid of the disease. The rats left behind
will be efficient breeders and spreaders, and
the flooding will also spread it,” commented
Texas A&M University College of Veterinary
Medicine professor Tam Garland.

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