Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Rabies and dogs

Rabies and dogs

The Australian press is divided into two groups, those who support Bali and those who take every opportunity to put Bali in a negative light.

When the rabies outbreak started in 2008 some of the press delighted in saying how dangerous Bali had become. Absolutely no mention that travellers to Europe and the USA should also avoid being bitten not only by dogs but by many other mammals that can carry the rabies virus.

Dogs to the Balinese are considered to be the reincarnation of evil spirits and to be left well alone. Stray and feral dogs were a real problem prior to 2008. Often tourists could see dogs that had been run over with fur torn off , exposed flesh visible and  limping along with broken bones. No one took any care of them. the most humane thing would have been to have them put down.

There is a charity group, the name of which escapes me at the moment, based near Ubud, that look after stray Balinese dogs.

Gradually the attitude towards dogs has changed. Possibly because so many ex pats have dogs as pets. Also there are a number of pet shops that cater for the need of pets. Now quite a number of Balinese keep dogs as pets and not just guard dogs.

Anyway back to rabies. At the outset dogs were hunted and exterminated. In one area I know the army came and went into the bush shooting. The number of dogs decreased rapidly!

Dogs are now required to have a collar indicating thet they have been vaccinated and are supposed to be kept within the family compound.

Dogs found near monkey colonies and bat colonies are collected and "dealt with".

I go walking through Balinese villages and since the culling of stray dogs it has been so much more pleasant.

Because I do a lot of walking and encountered may feral dogs I did get the vaccination. A course of three injections costing $300. For the average visitor, who usually stay in the main tourist areas it in not essential to get vaccinated. The likelihood of getting bitten by an infected dog is now extremely remote.

If a tourist is bitten by a dog, bat or monkey it is wise to get the ant dote as soon as possible.

The deaths from rabies has been confined to Balinese who failed to seek treatment. They failed to get treatment because they thought they had to pay for it. in fact the government has introduced free treatment.

One reason why Balinese do not look after their pets as well as tourists do is the cost. I have a cat in Bali. I had it neutered at a cost of $50 - very cheap. My Balinese friends were horrified - they were thinking of what they could do with $50. The cat also lives like a queen having a diet of  "Whiskas"

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