Bali man believed to have died from rabies, first such death on the island in three years

A 22-year-old Balinese man is believed to have died from rabies after he was bitten by a dog around three months ago in Klungkung regency.
A 22-year-old Balinese man is believed to have died from rabies after he was bitten by a dog around three months ago in Klungkung regency.

A 22-year-old Balinese man is believed to have died from rabies after he was bitten by a dog around three months ago in Klungkung regency.

According to a report from the Jawa Pos network, Anak Agung Gede Rai Kariyawan, known as Ode, was brought to the local hospital in Klungkung after having difficulties breathing and swallowing water for two days.

“Afterwards, whenever there’s a breeze he’d be struggling as if he was possessed,” said Ode’s father, Ngurah Yasa, as quoted in the report.

That led his family to think that Ode was experiencing something medically unrelated or even supernatural, leading them to seek alternative solutions, which also did not yield results.

“I finally brought him to a local healer, who told me he had symptoms of rabies and should be brought to a hospital,” Yasa said.

The family only then found out about Ode being bitten by a dog three months ago from his friends.

“He was bitten by a dog, which wounded his hands. His friends had told him to immediately get a rabies vaccine, but Ode refused because it was just a small wound. I think he was also bitten in the foot before, I’m not sure if he’d gotten a vaccine for that,” Ode’s cousin, Anak Agung Oka, told the Jawa Pos network.

Ode died on Sunday, which Tribun-Bali said was the first death from rabies on the island within the past three years. The last death from rabies was recorded in 2016, with the victim being a nine-year-old boy from Banjarangkan, also in Klungkung regency.

Ode’s friends and family members immediately went over to the local Community Health Center (Puskesmas) to get a rabies vaccine, for fear that they might be infected through saliva contact. According to the Tribun-Bali report, Ode participated in a drinking party before he died, where people were drinking from the same glass.

“Rabies can indeed be transmitted through saliva. To reduce the risk of infection, we’ve given rabies vaccine to the people who were there at the party with the patient (Ode),” Dr. Ni Made Swapatni said, as quoted in the report.

As head of Klungkung health agency, Dr. Adi Swapatni also dispatched a team to investigate the matter and check on the possibility that other residents who may have been bitten.

Rabies has long been a persistent problem on the Island of the Gods. According to a Bali Post report in March of this year, 105 villages in Bali still report cases of rabies.

Earlier this year, the provincial government announced its plans to realize a rabies-free Bali before 2020, as reported by Media Indonesia.

In addition, the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture has reportedly allocated IDR 18 billion (USD 1.24 million) and provide over half a million vaccines to tackle the rabies problem in Bali.

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