Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Several parts of Indonesia are running the latent risk of a rabies outbreak but the past few months have seen a sharp rise in rabies infection cases in Bali.

As of March 2011, over 100 deaths caused by rabies have been reported in Bali while human and animal rabies cases have been confirmed throughout the island.

In Central Sulawesi, the incidence of rabies caused by stray dogs has also tended to increase over the past several months.

Local Animal Husbandry and Health Office spokesman Halim Mada`ali said in the provincial city of Palu on Tuesday that his office found it difficult to overcome the rabies epidemic.

Consequently, he called on both central and local governments to continue fighting the epidemic by distributing rabies vaccine to all districts and cities in the province.

According to Halim, rabies vaccine was every year distributed to animal husbandry and health offices in 10 districts and cities in Central Sulawesi.

"Rabies vaccination is routinely given to domestic dogs but it is difficult to do so with stray dogs," he said.

According to Halim, rabies disease from dog bite in the past four months in Central Sulawesi continued to increase with a fatality in Poso district.

He said Central Sulawesi animal husbandry office this year had received 20,000 dosages of rabies vaccine for the districts of Morowali, Poso, Sigi, Tojo Una-una, Banggai, Parigi Moutong, Buol, Banggai Kepulauan, and Palu City.

Rabies was also reported in Bengkulu Province with 174 cases in 2010 and as of March this year there have been 38 occurrences.

And thus Rejanglebong district in the province has become the first area to pioneer the establishment of rabies center.

"The rabies center is set up to control the spread of rabies epidemic in this area," Rejanglebong health office spokesman Tri Mei Sartono said in Bengkulu recently.

He said that for the first stage his party has set up rabies centers at six villages in Selupu Rejang sub-district which as an

endemic area with the highest cases.

Santoso said that besides establishing rabies centers, his office has also provided the local people with 200 anti rabies vaccines.

Indonesia is aiming at rabies free country 2020 but at present 24 provinces are not rabies free, except West Papua, West Nusa Tenggara, Riau Islands (Kepri), and Bangka-Belitung.

But Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih has said it did not mean that the non rabies free areas in the country had rabies cases every year with each case caused a fatality.

She said those areas were not rabies free because they have not succeeded in pressing the case of rabies to zero because nationally in 2010 there were 74,858 cases of rabies with 195 fatalities.

Of all provinces, Bali is ranked top in the case of rabies in Indonesia in the past two years.

"Bite cases and fatalities from the virus from stray dogs are the highest in the island resort of Bali," Denpasar veterinary testing centers and regional investigation spokesman AA Gede Putra said after a "Rabies Communication Meeting" in Denpasar early this month.

In January 2011, the district government of Nusa Penida which includes Nusa Gede, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan declared an

extraordinary situation concerning rabies on the island group located a short distance from Bali`s southeast coast.

As a rapidly progressing and deadly disease, rabies poses a serious threat to both human and animal health.

It is almost always spread by an animal bite but can also be spread when a rabid animal`s saliva gets directly into the eyes, nose, mouth, or broken skin.

The primary sources of human infection worldwide are dogs and certain wildlife species, such as foxes, raccoons, mongooses, and bats.

According to the World Health Organization, rabies kills approximately 50,000 people, mostly children each year throughout the world.

The rabies virus spreads through the central nervous system and causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

The most cost effective way to prevent the disease in people is by eliminating it in dogs through vaccination.

Therefore Indonesian authorities aimed to vaccinated hundreds of thousands of dogs on the island resort of Bali and elsewhere in an effort to stem the outbreak of rabies that has killed hundreds of people since the past years.

Authorities have begun a mass dog vaccination program in recent weeks, with the aim of inoculating 70 percent of a targeted 450,000 dogs in Bali by March this year.

Reporter: by Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2011