All-out effort needed to curb rabies

Figures show alarming rise in fatalities

All-out effort needed to curb rabies
Governor Fransiskus Lebu Raya announces a new anti-rabies initiative
Albertus V. Rehi, Kupang, Indonesia

October 8, 2012

Rabid animals have killed 228 people in East Nusa Tenggara province in the past five years, which represents a sharp rise according to official data. “These cases are out of control,” provincial governor Fransiskus Lebu Raya told reporters on Saturday in Kupang, the capital. “All social services must pay serious attention to the handling of these cases.” To reverse this trend, officials revealed a roadmap to eradicating rabies in the areas by 2017, developed by Dr. Maria Geong, a rabies expert. “This is hard work, and all parties must be involved,” she said. The government of East Nusa Tenggara province will set up a rabies prevention and eradication committee in Flores and Lembata, two areas with increasing rabies cases. Only 66,120 of the province's 206,543 dogs have been vaccinated, said Raya, even though the government has provided 267,250 doses. "About 28,000 more will be supplied. This move is being taken to make the vaccination process fast,” he said. According to Rita Kusriastuti, head of animal-borne infectious diseases at the Health Ministry, “the number of people who died from bites of dogs with rabies in the province keeps increasing. It significantly increases if it is compared to 1998-2005 data, which recorded 120 dead victims," she told Antara news agency. Related report Church leaders ask Catholics to heed anti-rabies campaign