20 fatal rabies cases in Sibu Division between 2021 and Oct 2023

Martin (left) answering the questions raised by Chieng during the DUN sitting on Nov 22, 2023.

KUCHING, Nov 22: Sibu Division has reported 20 fatal cases of rabies between 2021 and October of 2023.

According to Deputy Minister for Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Datuk Martin Ben, the number of positive animals’ rabies cases in Sibu Division stands at 27 out of 83 samples collected in the last three years.

“The Sarawak government has implemented various preventive measures to overcome the spread of this fatal disease as well as to prevent human fatalities,” said Martin when answering questions raised by Bukit Assek assemblyman Chieng Jin Ek (GPS-SUPP) at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here today.

He explained that the high number of stray animals, particularly unvaccinated and unneutered dogs, has significantly contributed to the spread of rabies.

The lack of knowledge about pet vaccination guidelines, failure to seek medical attention after animal bites, and unsafe interactions with animals, especially strays or wild animals, further exacerbate the issue.

“Unsafe interactions with animals and a lack of knowledge about the risks associated with handling or approaching animals, especially stray or wild animals, can lead to unsafe interactions,” said Martin.

Ineffective bite wound management, he added, is also one of the reasons leading to fatalities related to rabies.

Additionally, low awareness about rabies has resulted in resistance or opposition to vaccination campaigns and other control measures due to fear, mistrust, or misconceptions about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. — DayakDaily