Monday, January 18, 2010

Bali: Rabies virus feared to infect rats

Following the death of a woman from rabies in Tabanan regency on Thursday night, experts fear she contracted the virus from an infected rat that she was bitten by two months ago. The head of the University of Udayana’s Bimolecular Laboratory, Dr. I Gusti Ngurah Mahardika, explained how the virus was contracted and passed on to different animals.

A series of laboratory tests showed the rabies virus can infect rats and then be passed on to other animals. But, ecologically, there has never been any reports of rats carrying the rabies virus,” Mahardika said adding that further research and studies needed to be conducted to confirm the cause of the woman’s death.

On Thursday night, Tabanan regional hospital’s management confirmed the death of 46-year-old Ni Nyoman Koming. Based on the diagnoses, the victim suffered from rabies symptoms when she was firstly admitted to the hospital on Jan. 13.

The hospital’s Rabies Center Head, Dr. Gede Sudiartha, said the patient showed similar signs to someone who had contracted rabies, including being terrified by the sight of water and suffering from high fevers. The victim also suffered from diabetes. The doctor added the patient was bitten by a rat two months ago causing an infected wound on her leg.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mahardika confirmed the rabies virus was found in animals such as cats, dogs, bats, monkeys, cattle and horses.

Currently, the rabies virus is rampant in dogs in Bali.

Cats, dogs and cattle account for nearly 90 percent of rabies cases in domestic animals, with horses, mules, sheep, goats and ferrets making up the remaining cases. Among wild animals, the disease is mostly reported in skunks, raccoons, bats, foxes and wild rats.

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