Bali island in Indonesia, a popular tourist destination, is reporting a rabies outbreak. Travellers are being advised to avoid all contact with dogs, cats, monkeys and other animals.
The disease is often fatal, so tourists are urged to seek advice on vaccinations before travelling to Bali.
The warning from Australian health authorities after a meeting this week between all chief health officers, after information from Bali was discussed by Australia's Communicable Diseases Network (CDNA).
Bali tourism websites are also posting warnings about the outbreak.
Following intensive laboratory tests conducted after suspicious 4 deaths of local citizens bitten by stray dogs, Governor Made Mangku Pastika has officially declared the island of Bali as "positive" for the presence of rabies, said Bali Discovery Tours.
Moving swiftly to control the spread of the virus and potential threats to residents and visitors, the Governor has ordered the eradication of all stray street dogs in Bali. At the same time, the governor has issued orders to all port officials to take similar steps against all dogs, monkeys and cats confiscated from people trying to smuggle these animals onto the island.
Eager to eliminate the stray dog population as quickly as possible, governor Pastika has urged pet owners to confine their dogs until they can be tested and declared rabies free and urged local locals residents to take an active role in the extermination of stray dogs roaming Bali's streets. The governor said: "The people can take the step of killing stray dogs. If we leave this job to be done only by government officials, it's certain that we will be late in resolving this problem.
Pastika has also asked that members of the public who see animals manifesting the symptoms of the disease contact health authorities.
Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young issued a warning this afternoon, informing tourists that Bali has lost its "rabies-free" status.
The island of Bali has been regarded as free of the disease though it has existed in other parts of Indonesia.
Dr Young said human rabies usually followed a bite from a rabid animal, most frequently a dog, but in some parts of the world, other animals can be a source.
"We have been advised that authorities in Bali have taken steps to control the situation including implementing a program of culling and vaccination in dogs and vaccination of people in villages affected," she said.
"Anyone travelling to Bali or any rabies-endemic region should be aware of the risk and avoid close contact with either wild or domestic animals."
Dr Young encouraged tourists to seek medical advice about whether pre-travel rabies vaccination were required.
"Anyone who is bitten or scratched by an animal in any area where rabies exists should seek immediate medical attention locally and when they arrive home, as the disease can be fatal."
Rabies can be treated by vaccine, but is a major health problem in Asia and Africa where 55,000 people die each year.
According to the website http://www.baliforum.com, local newspapers have reported that three people living in Southern Kuta have died after bitten by dogs.
However local officials in Badung as well as in Sanglah General Hospital denied relationship between their deaths and rabies.
Whilst the symptoms were admitted as close to rabies, brain infections have been concluded.
Indonesia's central government has ordered Balinese health officials complete more detailed tests.