Some 628 human cases of rabies have been reported across Indonesia from January to February 2019, according to the Indonesian Ministry of Health, resulting in 12 associated deaths. Six deaths have been reported in West Nusa Tenggara province, three in North Sumatra province, and three in Central Sulawesi and North Sulawesi provinces. Authorities have declared an emergency status for rabies in Dompu regency (West Nusa Tenggara province), distributing rabies vaccines in the area. Despite such measures, further spread of the disease is possible in Dompu and other affected areas over the coming weeks.
Rabies is a viral infection of the central nervous system spread by infected mammals, most often dogs and bats. Transmission occurs via contaminated saliva transferred via bites and scratches or otherwise coming in contact with broken skin or mucous membranes (in the eyes, nose, mouth, etc.). If not promptly treated, rabies is nearly always fatal.
The main line of defense against rabies is to avoid contact with domestic, feral, and wild animals (mammals); a vaccine is available for at-risk individuals (e.g. people who live or travel to isolated areas, far from medical clinics) and treatment after transmission is possible if started before symptoms appear.
Individuals present in affected areas are advised to avoid all contact with unfamiliar mammals (especially those acting erratically), make sure pets are vaccinated against the disease, and seek immediate medical attention if there is any possibility that rabies transmission may have occurred.