WSPA applauds commitment to mass vaccination program
BOSTON, Mass. – May 25, 2011 – The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) welcomes stage two of Bali’s anti-rabies campaign, which will continue to provide rabies vaccinations to the island’s dogs. This stage of this campaign is designed to maintain disease immunity across the island, in keeping with stringent scientific protocols that provide the most effective and humane means to control the disease.
WSPA funded the first island-wide vaccination program in Bali as an alternative to ineffective methods of disease control such as culling dogs with strychnine, which is cruel and is condemned internationally. Much of the fieldwork for the project was carried out by the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) in conjunction with local authorities and other animal welfare agencies – Yudisthira Animal Welfare and Indonesian Animal Welfare (InAW) – using vaccines donated by the Australian Government.
Although WSPA is not funding this second phase of the program, it will continue working with other stakeholders to ensure animal welfare objectives are met. Ray Mitchell, WSPA Campaigns Director, says: “Maintaining the program in its current form offers the Balinese Provincial Government a unique opportunity to achieve its goal of a rabies-free Bali by 2012. At the same time, Bali is emerging as a leader in humane rabies control and setting an example for other countries.”
Mass vaccination of the animal reservoir species (in Bali’s case, dogs) is internationally recognized as the most effective means of controlling and eradicating rabies. Creating immunity through vaccination of the animal population creates an effective barrier to the spread of the disease, leading to its eradication. Two, or even three, rounds of vaccination may be required to achieve this.
During the first round of the program, which began in late 2010, more than 210,000 dogs – 70% of Bali’s estimated population – were vaccinated against rabies. Humane euthanasia was used for rabid dogs and unvaccinated dogs bitten by a rabid dog.
The results have been very positive, with human rabies deaths decreasing by almost 50% over four months, compared to the same period the previous year. Dog rabies cases have also decreased.
WSPA commends the Balinese Provincial Government on its commitment to undertake a second round of mass vaccination, and urges the government to continue the program as an alternative to culling.
Mitchell adds: “Not only is the culling of dogs inhumane, it will also destroy the collective immunity that has been built up by mass vaccination so far.”
WSPA hopes to build on the success of the first phase of the Bali program across Indonesia and South East Asia, showing that the mass vaccination of dogs is possible and effective for controlling rabies, without the need for culling healthy animals.