5 Serian villages now declared rabies infected; outbreak contained

File pictures of stray dogs. Strays are being rounded up within the containment area in Serian. -dayakdaily.com

KUCHING: The Sarawak government today declared five villages in the Serian district – Kampungs Kerait, Paon Rimu, Paon Rimu Bakung, Remun and Lebor – to be “rabies infected area” after three children from two of the villages were confirmed to have contracted the disease.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, after chairing the state disaster and management committee meeting at his office in Wisma Bapa Malaysia, said he had also issued the anti-rabies vaccination order that makes it compulsory for all pet dogs with a 10km radius of each village to be vaccinated.

“We are sending our teams today to carry out the vaccination and the vaccination is free,” he said in the post meeting media conference.

Uggah said the government invoked Section 37 of the Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999 to declare the villages rabies infected area to contained the area.

Initially, the vaccinations would be focused inside the infected zones and thereafter to areas within the surveillance zones but the area covering 10km radius from each village was set later because of the range limit of an infected dog.

The Sarawak Health Department had on July 1 declared a health alert in the district after two siblings aged 4 and 6 and a seven year-old girl were tested positive for the disease that is normally transmitted from bites of infected dogs.

The siblings are from Kpg Paon Rimu while the 7 year-old girl is from Kpg Lebur in Gedong, some 28km away.

Sarawak Health director Dr Jamilah Hashim said all three children are still critically ill in the paediatric intensive care unit (ICU) of the Sarawak general hospital (SGH).

The boy, who was admitted in to SGH on June 9, was believed to have been bitten by a dog “two to three months” earlier.

His elder sister was admitted on June 11.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had on July 1 said urine samples, saliva and skin biopsies of the victims that were sent to the Institute of Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur, tested positive for rabies virus.

While the number of confirmed cases remain at three, Dr Jamilah said health teams that had combed four villages since Sunday found 34 people had been bitten by dogs between April 1 and yesterday.

None of them had fallen sick and their health is being evaluated and monitored for sign of rabies and post exposure treatment.

The state government has also ordered RM100,000 worth of rabies vaccines for human use. – dayakdaily.com