Rabies in Bali

Ever wonder what it’s like to live in a country where rabies is endemic? I’ve often wondered, especially on those occasions when I’ve examined an animal with symptoms that could be compatible with rabies infection. Still, I always put rabies at the bottom of my differential, because there are almost never any cases reported in my corner of the world here in Quebec, in wild or domestic animals. The only exception would be bats, who appear to be a reservoir of rabies – approximately 3% of bats who are sent to the centralised Canadian lab for rabies testing do test positive, but that is still a very, very low number, and hardly a concern unless you ever come in contact with a dead or dying bat.

Reading my favourite veterinary blog today, Dolittler, I realised yet again that rabies is a deadly, dastardly disease.

In case the terrorist travel advisories haven’t spooked the visitors yet, here’s another blow to its tourist trade: Bali’s government is currently suppressing a seven month-long outbreak of rabies with a tried and true routine. It’s baiting stray dogs with strychnine-laced meatballs.

Come on, now, we all know that nothing works like a neurotoxin to help differentiate a rabid animal from a poisoned one, right?

I can just picture it: panicked Balinese pointing to one after another seizuring dog wondering how in the world rabies got to this point on their formerly unaffected island. Next thing you know they’re killing off their neighbors’ pets along with their own children’s dogs in a frenzied act of anti-rabies desperation.

Bali’s first human rabies cases hit the news last September. Since then, a total of eight people have reportedly succumbed. This, for an island nation with no former history of rabies––and little understanding of how their rabies-free status changed, seemingly overnight––is a hard pill to swallow.

I hope that veterinary organisations will step in to advise and act. It’s disturbing that in a country where so much has been invested in tourism, so little is being done to protect the health of animals and humans…
à suivre…

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6 Comments on “Rabies in Bali”

  1. hemmingforddogblog Says:

    I remember a neighbour of ours who was moving to England with their dalmation. She told me (and this was a few years ago) that their dog had to be in quarantine for 6(?) months — and she had to foot the bill. I believe it was because of rabies. At the time there had never been rabies in Britian, and this was their way of making sure it did not enter the country. Do you know if this is still so?

    I think down south here, there is a problem with rabies in racoons. Sometime during the summer there are helicopters dropping food packages with rabies vacine in it for the racoons. This happens right at the NY/Que/Vermonts borders. (How do the racoons know the packages are for them?):)

  2. brebis noire Says:

    Yes, the quarantine law is still on in Britain – last spring there was a case of rabies in a quarantined puppy that had been imported from Sri Lanka

    So of course they are happy that the system is working and won’t be reducing the quarantine period because Britain is a rabies-free island and they obviously want to stay that way.

    In your corner of the woods, there is more of a problem with rabies than elsewhere in Quebec – I always refer to your general area when people ask me about the rabies in southern Quebec. Where I live (much further east) we have only heard of cases in bats. Two or three years ago a guy in Bury was bitten by a rabid bat – he picked it up, thought it was dead but it bit him and then died. Luckily he had the presence of mind to have the bat sent to the lab and when it tested positive he got his shots. Perhaps he even started on the shots before the results came in, though results should be produced rapidly with the post-mortem virology tests directly on the brain.

    Nasty, nasty disease.

  3. brebis noire Says:

    (Raccoons assume that any food not locked up in houses is for them. 😉 )

  4. deBeauxOs Says:

    And only if the locks are racoon-proof. Very clever and agile, those racoons.

  5. Nigel Says:

    This is my first time pay a visit at here and i am truly happy to read everthing at alone place.

  6. The Diabetes Protocol 2014

    Rabies in Bali | the black ewe

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