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KUCHING, March 30: The Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed the death of a five-year-old in Sibu on March 26 was due to rabies.
MOH director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in a statement today disclosed this is the first reported rabies case this year, making it the 23rd case in Sarawak since July 31, 2017.
The last rabies case in Sarawak was reported on Nov 8, 2019.
“The five-year-old Malaysian girl who lived in Sibu was attacked and bitten by a stray dog on March 8, 2020 on her face, mouth and eyelids. However, her wound was not washed with clean water and soap immediately after the incident. She was later taken to Sibu Hospital for treatment on the same day.
“The victim was immediately given anti-tetanus vaccine, Rabies Immunoglobulin (RIG) and two doses of anti-rabies vaccine while she was being treated at Sibu Hospital,” Dr Noor Hisham added.
On March 13, she was discharged in good health.
The third dose of anti-rabies vaccine was also given to her on March 16.
“However, on March 24, she was brought to a Community Clinic in Sibu for fever and then to Sibu Hospital on March 25 due to sore throat, difficulty in swallowing and hallucination. She was immediately admitted into the ward for further treatment.
“Her condition worsened and she passed away the next day. Samples taken from the victim on March 26 confirmed the cause of death as rabies encephalitis by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) on March 29,” Dr Noor Hisham added.
The stray dog was reported to have died on March 10 but no samples were taken.
MOH is advising the public to take extra precautions to prevent rabies, by rinsing any body parts which are bitten by dogs or other animals with running water and soap for 15 minutes to eliminate saliva and to seek immediate treatment at a nearby health clinic or hospital.
Pet owners must also ensure their dogs or cats receive anti-rabies shots at the nearest veterinary clinic and prevent them from mixing with other dogs or wild animals.
“If your pets are behaving aggressively, seek immediate treatment from a veterinarian and report it to the nearest Veterinary Services Department.
“Report to the local authorities if there are wild dogs roaming in the area and always maintain a high level of personal hygiene such as washing hands properly with water and soap after touching your pet.”
MOH and Sarawak Health Department remain committed and will enhance cooperation with the Sarawak government, Department of Veterinary Services and other agencies to ensure the prevention and control of rabies is fully implemented. — DayakDaily