Bali tourists are being issued an urgent warning about the island's stray dogs. While these free-roaming canines have long been a part of Bali's charm, a recent attack on a tourist has prompted authorities to urge travellers to be careful around the animals, which have been known to carry rabies.
Typically friendly dogs are a familiar sight at Bali's popular beaches, including Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu, and are often fed by tourists and local businesses. However, earlier this week a tourist was bitten by a dog in a sudden and unexpected attack at Legian Beach, requiring immediate medical attention.
Ni Putu Eka Martini, the Head of Legian Village, confirmed the incident with NusaBali. "We received reports of tourists being bitten by dogs at Legian Beach," she explained. "During the incident, the tourist who was walking was suddenly attacked by a dog, so the tourist suffered injuries to his legs."
Efforts are underway to track down the dog, which will undergo a veterinary assessment and rabies testing. "We have obtained the characteristics of the dog, now we are still investigating its whereabouts," Eka Martini said.
Risk of rabies
Fortunately, the probability of the dog in question testing positive for rabies is relatively low, as beach dogs in the Legian, Kuta and Seminyak areas are routinely vaccinated against the virus.
"Every dog that has been vaccinated is given a collar tag, so that the Legian Beach Task Force can also identify and monitor dogs on the beach," Eka Martini said.
However, given the large size of Legian, monitoring dogs from outside the area has proven difficult and several locals have been exposed to rabies so far this year, including a five-year-old girl.
Eka Martini claimed that up until recently incidents of dog bites "no longer existed" due to efforts of local authorities, but attacks are once again on the rise.
There are also fears this week's incident will lead to a series of dog poisonings, as has occurred in the past. Eka Martini advised local dog owners to keep their pets away from food scraps while out on walks in the coming weeks.
Staying safe around Bali's stray dogs
Travel information resource Travel Snippet provides tips to ensure your safety in the company of Bali's stray dogs. If you see an aggressive dog, you're advised to remain calm and, if possible, walk away. If you can't walk away, freeze where you are, avoid eye-contact and ask a local for help.
What to do if you're exposed to rabies
For anyone exposed to saliva from animals at risk of carrying rabies, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advises thorough washing of the affected area with water and soap for at least 15 minutes. It's crucial to apply local treatment to the wound as soon as possible following a suspected exposure.
Subsequently, those affected should receive a course of rabies vaccine and, if necessary, the administration of rabies antibodies directly into the wound.
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