BAWA achieves Bali rabies turnaround

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2011:

UBUD, Bali, Indonesia–Vaccinating 210,000 dogs in the six
months ending on March 31, 2011, the Bali Animal Welfare
Association achieved a 48% reduction in human rabies deaths and a 45%
decrease in dog rabies cases. This was the fastest containment of a
rabies outbreak in the history of Indonesia, achieved even as a
13-year-old outbreak continues in Flores, where officials have
fought rabies mainly by culling dogs.
During the six-month vaccination sweep, BAWA established by
counting dogs from house to house in every village that the Bali dog
population is “just over 300,000 dogs, about 1 dog to 12.5 people,”
BAWA founder Janice Girardi told ANIMAL PEOPLE–exactly the ANIMAL
PEOPLE estimate produced in late 2008 when the rabies outbreak was
first recognized. Government estimates were half again to twice as

A Flores cab driver, his girlfriend, and their unvaccinated
dog moved to the Ungasan peninsula in southern Bali in approximately
May 2008. Infected in Flores, the dog first displayed rabid
symptoms in late June 2008. Three people were fatally bitten,
including the cab driver, before the outbreak was detected, four
months after the dog died.
As rabies occurred only on the Ungasan peninsula until early
2009, the outbreak could have been isolated and eradicated almost
immediately through intensive vaccination. Instead Bali authorities
for more than a year practiced only selective vaccination, culled as
many as 150,000 dogs, and until mid-2009 actually prohibited
vaccinating dogs outside of areas with active rabies cases. More
than 150 human rabies deaths followed.
For more than a year BAWA showed the value of vaccinating
dogs instead of culling by keeping rabies out of the densely
populated Gianyar regency, before getting the okay to try to
vaccinate at least 70% of the dogs in all eight Bali regencies.
“The first round of mass vaccinations was funded by the World
Society for the Protection of Animals, the Australian government,
and the International Fund for Animal Welfare,” said an April 5,
2011 WSPA news release “The program is also supported by the World
Health Organization and the United Nations Food & Agriculture
Despite the success of the program, Girardi told ANIMAL
PEOPLE she was not optimistic that BAWA would be allowed to continue.
“Everyone agrees that we must re-run a program, boost the dogs, and
target all new puppies and pups that Balinese have brought in after
their dogs were killed,” Girardi said. “So far half the regencies
want our help and won’t go back to culling. Others want our help,
but also want all dogs chained, caged, or killed, in which case we
won’t help. From recent meetings it seems like they do not want
BAWA to continue vaccinating. I only hope they continue with a
robust vaccination program under FAO coordination,” Girardi finished.

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