Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Sad, Unnecessary Consequences Of Inadequate Public Health Systems

I was saddened to read today about the severe dog rabies problem in Bali reported in the San Francisco Chronicle. Bali, of course, is a trendy vacation hot spot of late, but you wouldn't catch me taking any children there, in large part because the country is utterly lacking in the physical resources to provide post-exposure prophylaxis to its own citizens, let along tourists who might get exposed to rabies.

In Third World countries like this, if you get bitten by an animal that cannot be proven to be free of rabies, your safest bet is to throw away your vacation money already spent and evacuate back to the US immediately for treatment. And how many people are going to do THAT?? So they put the blinders on, continue their vacation, and die a couple of months later.

Of course if it happened to me, I would worry less because I have been previously vaccinated for rabies and several years ago still had a protective titer. But if exposed, I would still fly home for the minimal treatment I would need. That's why I buy trip insurance.

Sadly, Bali was rabies-free until 18 months ago. So the local residents have no experience with it, and do not have reason to fear dog bites like those in areas with longstanding rabies problems.