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More than 620 people have caught rabies in Indonesia so far this year, including 12 who died of the disease, authorities in Indonesia have said.

Nadia Tarmizi, director of the Health Ministry, said the low ratio of dogs getting the rabies vaccine was a major factor in the outbreak, The Jakarta Post reported. She said the Agriculture Ministry should be responsible for ensuring that the vaccine is properly given out.

Six deaths were reported in Dompu, West Nusa Tenggara, with three in northern Sumatra and three in Sulawesi. However, the level of deaths is not alarming, given that the country has a population of about 264 million.

Tarmizi said on February 14 that the extent of vaccination coverage for dogs was only about 30%, and 26 provinces were yet to fully eliminate rabies. But West Nusa Tenggara — a province that had been declared rabies-free — was hit hard by the rabies outback. West Nusa Tenggara is east of Bali and includes Lombok and Sumbawa islands.

The head of the Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention, Anung Sugihantono, blamed a rise in the stray dog population and a lack of proper disease control for the problem.

As of now, an emergency status for rabies has been declared in Dompu. Authorities have distributed 2,800 vaccines for the epidemic, with an additional 600 to arrive from Jakarta. More than 1,000 of the 9,000-plus dogs in Dompu had been put down.

Authorities have also set up tight security at the ports that connect Lombok and Sumbawa islands, with dogs not allowed to enter or leave Sumbawa.

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