Bali Dogs Need 2nd Round of Vaccination

Bali Dogs Need 2nd Round of Vaccination

The Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) said the island’s dogs needed to be given a repeated dose of anti-rabies vaccine to control the spread of the fatal infection.

The NGO said it had succeeded in vaccinating 160,000 dogs in the last five months, almost 60 percent of the island’s canine population of 300,000.

BAWA assists the Bali administration in running mass vaccination drives to curb the spread of the disease that has claimed 118 lives in the resort island since the first case emerged in two villages in South Badung in late 2008.

“Our target is to vaccinate 70 percent of the canine population by the end of March. We are optimistic of completing the vaccination program on schedule,” BAWA director Janice Girardi said Saturday.

“There have been new births after the first vaccination. Therefore the dogs need to be given another round of vaccines because it is the most effective way of controlling the disease. We hope the Bali administration supports the program,” she stressed.

She said another round of vaccination was needed to free Bali from rabies by 2012 as targeted by the administration, adding that achieving the target required at least three phases of mass vaccinations.

Should the island be free of rabies by 2012, it would set a good example for other countries to tackle the infection and would also rebuild the world’s confidence in the island’s tourism industry, as the rabies outbreak had put some tourists off from visiting the island, she added.

The first round of vaccinations was financed through a US$1 million fund provided by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). The program was carried out by BAWA, the provincial administration and all regency administrations in Bali, except Klungkung, which refused to join the program but did not say why.

The mass vaccination drive involved 50 teams of 400 trained staff working with banjar (traditional hamlets) leaders.

“All staff are well trained to catch and vaccinate dogs. They have also received anti-rabies vaccines to
prevent disease transmission,” Janice said.

The mass vaccination drive targeted stray dogs and those abandoned by their owners. Vaccinated dogs were tagged to distinguish them from ones not yet inoculated.

“We always run a survey a day after the vaccination drive to ensure that our target has been achieved and we will repeat the vaccination drive should we find many untagged dogs in the area,” Janice said.

Apart from intensifying the vaccination drives, the local administration should strictly monitor dogs brought in from outside Bali because infected dogs entering the island could be a major threat.

Putu Sumantra, the head of the provincial veterinary agency, claimed the vaccination drive was running on track.

“We continue to monitor dog-bite cases in humans and we’ve seen a decline in all infected villages, with 10 villages reporting no cases at all in the last 12 months,” Sumantra said.

He said his agency would place more effort in curbing the spread of rabies, including by disseminating more information to the public and keeping the vaccination program on track.

“Our teams of officers and counselors in villages continue to educate the public about rabies.”