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Okinawa failing in rabies vaccinations

Date Posted: 2009-05-28

Okinawa’s picking up another dubious record in Japan, a rabies inoculation rate of less than 50% of its animals.

New figures show that Okinawa continues to have the worst record in Japan, with the prefecture falling well below the nationwide 80% inoculation rate. Okinawa has slipped from 65% only a decade ago, and the Prefecture says once the rate drops below 70% it’s difficult to protect the population if infection happens, “so citizens should raise the urgency sense for inoculations.”

The Prefecture Veterinary Association lays the blame on funding. “We are sending veterinarians to cities and towns and villages at our expense,” a spokesman says, “but the cost is red. We can’t go all the time operating at a deficit.” He called on support from each municipality to funding to raise the inoculation rate for dogs.

Okinawa Prefecture says there are more than 64,000 dogs in the Prefecture, but that only 33,500 have had vaccinations. Only 52% have met government requirements, while elsewhere in Japan the number’s 80% compliance.

Keisuke Fukumura, the Prefecture Veterinary Association’s president, says “Okinawan people’s crisis sense is getting lower. All dog owners should have more common sense to get vaccinations.” He says the Association is doing vaccinations during Okinawa’s religious festival season, and dog owners don’t turn out for vaccinations, and called for “vaccinations for both humans and for dogs.”

The veterinary group says it’s going to outer island, including some out of the way places, with the Veterinary Association picking up the tab. With the travel expenses costing ¥1~3 million each year, Fukumura says it needs help from local governments. “Otherwise,” he says, “we can’t protect against disease.”

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