The Jakarta Post, 8 Desember 2010
Continuous education on methods for preventing rabies will play a more important role in eradicating the disease because it involves communities at all age levels, an expert said. Udayana University Husbandry School virology professor I Gusti Ngurah Mahardika told 210 elementary school teachers from Badung, Tabanan and Karangasem regencies here on Monday that the deadly disease could be prevented if people knew how to handle it at its very early stages.
The teachers were taking part in a one-day rabies prevention seminar jointly held by the Husbandry School and the Center for Human Resource Development and Applied Technology (CREATE). The seminar was funded by UNICEF. Vaccinations for both animals and humans were important, yet education and socialization were needed to open the eyes and minds of local residents on the dangers of the disease and how to cope with it as early as possible. “Most people, especially those living in remote rural areas, do not have any knowledge on how to take care of dog bites in simple, effective and inexpensive ways,” said Mahardika, who is also chairman of Bali Rabies Prevention and Eradication Campaign.
When a dog bites a child or an adult, his or her family members should immediately wash the open wound with soap and running water for at least 10 minutes. After the wound has been cleaned it should be treated with disinfectant liquid prior to further medical treatment at a local community health center. Rabies outbreaks in Bali are closely related to the local people’s habit of keeping dogs. Thousands of dogs become a part of Balinese family life, while thousands of other dogs roam freely in almost all villages on the island.
A medical doctor explained it was hard to convince people to keep their dogs at home and to vaccinate their pets regularly. During the seminar each participant received a guide book on how to deal with dog bites and how to treat them properly. Bali Health Office sanitation and infectious disease department head Subrata lamented that about 100 of 109 people who recently died of rabies did not obtain proper treatment. “They did not get first-aid treatment or anti-rabies vaccines for their dog bite wounds,” Subrata said. The majority of dog bite cases occurred in remote regions far away from local community health centers. Lack of understanding of the rabies prevention program has resulted in an increase of rabies cases in the island’s eight regencies and one mayoralty.
The Bali provincial administration has admitted that it launched ineffective an anti-rabies program after the first case of rabies emerged administration has spent Rp 38.5 billion (approximately US$4.2 million) for procurement of anti-rabies vaccines for humans and animals.