The government of Indonesia has recently declared a State of Extraordinary Event (KLB) due to the outbreak of rabies in two districts located in East Nusa Tenggara. This decision was prompted by the emergence of rabies cases in the region, indicating the need for immediate action.
Dr. Imran Pambudi, the Director of Disease Prevention and Control at the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia, identified the two affected districts as Sikka on Flores Island and Timor Tengah Selatan on Timor Island.
Regarding the KLB designation, he stated, “Specifically for NTT, there are two districts that have been designated as rabies KLB areas. The declaration of the KLB status was made by the two respective local authorities.”
It is worth noting that the presence of rabies in Timor Island is considered a new occurrence, as the area was previously free from rabies. Dr. Imran Pambudi stressed the importance of swift measures to contain the outbreak, stating, “Areas affected by rabies cases should be isolated, and all dogs in those areas should be vaccinated, not only pets, in order to break the chain of rabies transmission.”
Rabies cases in East Nusa Tenggara are reported to be the second highest in the country after Bali Province. The number of dog bites attributed to rabies in NTT reached a staggering 12,576 cases, with 3,437 cases occurring specifically on Flores and Lembata islands in 2023.
To ensure the safety and well-being of affected individuals, immediate medical attention is crucial. Dr. Imran Pambudi emphasized the importance of seeking medical treatment at the nearest healthcare facility for those bitten by rabid dogs.
Highlighting the national context, Dr. Imran Pambudi further revealed that 95% of reported rabies cases in Indonesia are found in humans and are primarily acquired through bites from infected dogs.
The prevalence of the virus extends across 25 provinces, with eight provinces still remaining free from the disease, namely Riau Islands, Bangka Belitung, DKI Jakarta, Central Java, DI Yogyakarta, East Java, West Papua, and Papua.
Additionally, there are islands within Indonesia that have successfully maintained a rabies-free status, including Tabuhan and Pisang Islands in Lampung, Meranti Island in Riau, Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra, Sintaro Island in South Sulawesi, as well as Nunukan, Batik, and Tarakan Islands in North Kalimantan.
Dr. Imran Pambudi shed light on the extent of rabies cases in animals, reporting 234 documented cases through the Indonesian Animal Health Information System in 2023. These cases were spread across ten provinces, namely Bali, Jambi, South Kalimantan, Lampung, West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara, Riau, South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, and North Sumatra.
In an effort to break the chain of rabies transmission, Dr. Imran Pambudi stressed the importance of vaccinating animals that have the potential to transmit the virus.
Furthermore, cross-border surveillance and strict monitoring protocols are necessary to prevent animals suspected of carrying that virus from entering areas that are currently free from the disease, thus safeguarding the regions’ rabies-free status.