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Ministry of Agriculture cooperates with FAO to control rabies in Dompu, West Nusa Tenggara

Dog owners in Huú subdistrict, Dompu, NTB with their red collared dogs. Red collars are used to mark vaccinated dogs. @FAO/Sadewa
08/02/2019

Dompu, West Nusa Tenggara. The Ministry of Agriculture, through the Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health Services (DGLAHS), is taking immediate actions to control the current rabies outbreak in Dompu regency, Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara province.

 After previously sending a Joint Veterinary Team to conduct investigations and immediate vaccination of dogs against rabies, the DGLAHS together with the Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO ECTAD) held vaccination training for district livestock and human health officers in Dompu, Bima, and Sumbawa regencies, as well as training on the Procedures for Integrated Bite Case Management (IBCM).

 This training was held to improve the knowledge and skills of officers to prevent and control rabies in Sumbawa. "In 2017 the Government officially declared West Nusa Tenggara province free from rabies. But, following the cases earlier this year, Dompu regency has now been declared as a rabies infected area," said the Head of the Denpasar Diseases Investigation Center of the Ministry of Agriculture, I Wayan Masa Tenaya during the Rabies Prevention and Control Socialization program at the Dompu Regent's Pavilion, West Nusa Tenggara.

 Masa explained that his team will continue to work together with all stakeholders, especially the animal health and human health sectors, and the local government to jointly control and eradicate rabies. The Head of Dompu Regency Livestock and Animal Health Services, Zainal Arifin, said that between late 2018 and February 2019 there have been 544 dog bite cases from potential rabies vector animals with five fatal rabies cases.

 According to Zainal, the incursion of rabies into Dompu was caused by people’s customary movement of dogs to Sumbawa and their use of dogs to guard farm crops such as maize. "In addition to dog vaccination, we also try to limit the movement of rabies vector animals, such as dogs, from Dompu to other regencies. Up to now, all districts in Dompu have reported dog bite cases in their areas," said Zainal.

 The Head of the Dompu Regency Health Office Iris Juita Kastianti regretted the behavior of the people who did not immediately report to health posts once they got bitten. Even after receiving the first vaccine treatment, many patients did not return to the district health centers (puskesmas) to complete their vaccination courses. "

After visiting the puskesmas, a patient receives a mandatory rabies control card. The patient must return to the puskesmas on specified dates for additional vaccination. If they do not complete the course of vaccination, the result could be very dangerous. Non-treated patients could die between 2 weeks to 2 years following a bite from a rabid dog. The community still lacks this information about rabies," she explained.

 This Training on Prevention and Control of Rabies was attended by heads of districts and villages in the Dompu Regency. In his remarks, the Dompu Regent, Bambang M. Yasin expressed his appreciation to FAO and other stakeholders for helping his region in controlling the rabies outbreak. Before the regency was declared a rabies infected area on January 27 2019, his team had responded to the increased number of dog bite cases by sending samples to be tested by the Denpasar Disease Investigation Center. As a result, three tested samples were confirmed positive for rabies. "Now, I have formed a special team to control dog rabies in Dompu," he stated.

 To increase public awareness, the dog-owning community together with farmers and hunters will also gather on Friday, February 8, 2019 to be updated on rabies and its prevention/control. They are also expected to support more widespread dog vaccination programs to prevent rabies.

 Stephen Rudgard, FAO Representative in Indonesia stated, “the arrival of rabies in Dompu, a regency previously free of the disease, is very unfortunate and demonstrates the need to develop capacities within local government, and especially the animal health service, to detect and respond to a priority disease such as rabies.” FAO is pleased to collaborate with the DGLAHS Ministry of Agriculture and the Dompu Regency to train animal health officers and to increase community awareness.