Bali Rabies' Toll Rises to 78 After 2 Children Die
This weekend, 2 children have died of rabies in Bali, bringing the official death toll from the epidemic that broke out on the island in November 2008 to 78. The latest victims were identified as a 13-year-old child and a 5-year-old child, both from Buleleng district. The elder died on Saturday, and the younger died on Sunday [23 Aug 2010].

Ken Wirasandi, the secretary of the rabies task force at Denpasar's Sanglah General Hospital, said that the victims had exhibited clear symptoms of rabies, such as acute fear of light and water, shortness of breath and foaming at the mouth. While the official death toll is now 78, unofficial estimates put the figure at 85, which includes 7 victims who died showing symptoms of rabies but were never autopsied.

The number of dog-bite incidents across the island is also on the rise. On Monday [24 Aug 2010], a dog in Karangasem district bit 5 people, including a veterinarian called in to treat it. Two of the victims were treated at Sanglah Hospital but none received a rabies vaccine because the hospital has run out of stock. In Tabanan district, 17 people have been bitten by dogs.

Rabies vaccines are running low across the resort island, with the districts of Denpasar, Badung, Klungkung, Karangasem and Bungli confirmed to be out of stock. Nyoman Sutedja, the head of the Bali Health Office, said the situation was growing more serious, with the number of dog attacks surging over the past several months. "So far this year there have been 36 000 dog-bite incidents in Bali, up from 24 000 for the whole of 2009," Sutedja said. "This surge in the number of cases has overwhelmed us." He added that his office had initially predicted it would need 19 000 doses of rabies vaccine this year, based on the 12 000 used last year. However, the projection proved wrong and the year's supply of vaccines ran out in the 1st 6 months.

Sutedja said Bali had recently received 2600 doses from the World Health Organization and would receive a further 15 500 next month, as well as 18 000 from the central government. He said this would allow his office to hand out relief batches of the vaccine to officials in districts across the island.

The Bali administration has also allocated Rp 7 billion (USD 777 000) to buy extra stock of the vaccine, which would take its total to 119 000 doses, Sutedja said.