At least 50 people have died of rabies in the recent weeks in a reported outbreak in the south west district of Indonesia's Maluku province, local officials said on Monday [5 Mar 2012]. "Rabies has killed at least 50 people, and hundreds of others have been infected [that is, exposed to the risk of the disease]," Bernabas Orno said, adding that the outbreak has been reported to Maluku governor Karel Albert Ralahalu.
The deadly virus has hit this remote province hard in recent weeks. The rabies virus is spread through contact with infected animals, who carry the virus in their saliva. Those bitten by an infected animal can avoid contracting the deadly disease if they clean the wound and receive a rabies vaccination within hours of contact. But rabies vaccine supplies in the remote Southwest Maluku district have run out, Barnabas said. No hospitals in the district have the vaccine, and efforts to control the spread of the virus have failed to make an impact, he added. "We are badly in need of the provincial government's help," Barnabas said. Without help, Barnabas feared that the rabies epidemic in the Southwest Maluku district would only get worse.