Rabies Claims 124 Lives In Bali

Denpasar. Despite an ongoing canine vaccination campaign, rabies has claimed the lives of three people in four days on the resort island of Bali, a health official said on Wednesday.

Ketut Karnu, a 62-year-old from Bunutin village in Karangasem district, became the latest victim when he passed away at Sanglah Hospital on Wednesday afternoon, said Ken Wirasandi, the secretary of the hospital’s anti-rabies team.

“When we admitted the patient, he was already in critical condition,” Ken said, adding that the man was treated for two days at the hospital before he died.

Karnu, he said, had been referred by Karangasem Hospital.

According to Karnu’s relatives, he was bitten on the left hand and on the shoulder around four months ago by the family dog. The pet, they said, was put down the following day.

On Sunday, I Wayan Laut, 66, and I Putu Dewen, 22, also died from rabies.

Laut, from Nusa Penida Island in Klungkung district, was already dead when he was taken to Sanglah on Sunday. His family said he had been bitten on the right arm by a dog about three months ago.

Dewen’s case was more unusual, Ken said, because he had been bitten by a dog in Kintamani, Bangli district, two years earlier. The dog that had bitten him, he added, was killed the following day.

“If it’s true, then it would mean there was a very long incubation period,” he said.

The disease has claimed 124 lives in the province since the first victim succumbed in 2008. Ten of the fatalities have occurred this year, Ken added.

However, Nyoman Sutedja, the head of the Bali Health Office, said only 49 of the 124 deaths had been proven categorically to have been caused by rabies.

The cause of death of the remaining victims had for various reasons not been ascertained by lab tests.

Meanwhile, Putu Sumantra, the head of the province’s animal husbandry office, has deployed a team to conduct immediate dog vaccinations in the areas where rabies victims have been found.

“Vaccinations have already reached 76 percent of Bali’s canine population,” Sumantra said.

The island has set a target of ridding itself of rabies by 2012.

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