Timor-Leste to Ban Release of Dogs in Public Over Rabies Concerns Featured

By The INDEPENDENTE April 16, 2024 864
Foto:Google. Foto:Google.

DILI: The Timor-Leste government said on Monday it will ban the release of dogs, cats and monkeys in public places effective immediately, as part of efforts to eliminate rabies.

The viral disease is rare in Timor-Leste, but still killed a man in Oecussi, who was bitten by a rabies-positive dog, said a government statement.

Disease experts from the World Health Organisation say that Timor-Leste has never had a rabies case reported before September 2023. About 16 deaths have been reported since then, said WHO.

The ban applies to all dogs, cats and monkeys. It also includes a ban on the movement of dogs, cats and monkeys from Oecussi, Dili, Bobonaro, and Covalima, regions classified as high risk for dogs with rabies, to other municipalities “by land, air or sea.”

“It is strictly prohibited to leave animals, namely dogs, cats and monkeys, in public places throughout the territory of Timor-Leste,” said the statement.

“The community that have dogs, cats and monkeys is appealed to trap or tie them and not leave them free,” it added, noting the bans are to protects the public’s health against the fatal disease – if not vaccinated.

Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture with support from Ministry of Health and WHO have asked people to cooperate with their vaccination teams to vaccinate their dogs, cats and monkeys.

Efforts in other Southeast Asian countries have shown that mass dog vaccination programs can prevent human rabies. Vaccinating 70 percent of dogs in a given region is the threshold for halting rabies, the WHO notes.

The government said failure to comply with the new rules, and in the event of some being bitten by a rabid dog, cat or monkey, “will result in the liability of the respective owners of these animals.”

The virus, present in an infected animal’s saliva, is transmitted to people through a deep bite. It is one of the few diseases in which a person can be protected by a vaccine after being exposed.

Its incubation period is generally one to three months. As the virus spreads though the central nervous system, fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord occurs.

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