By Karen Bong
KUCHING, May 26: Batu Kitang, Jalan Stephen Yong and Mile 7 onwards have been identified as highly infectious areas for rabies.
Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) infectious disease chief Dr Chua Hock Hin emphasised that the health authority will not take any chances when cases of dog bites have been reported in these areas.
“Rabies is now fairly endemic in Sarawak since the outbreak in 2017. Each human case merely represents the tip of the iceberg.
“This means that a significant number of people are exposed to rabies, and there is a huge number of animals (including dogs) that will be detected positive for rabies whether diagnosed or otherwise,” he said when presenting a talk at the ‘Dog Bite Kills: Rabies Awareness Public Forum’ organised by Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Sarawak Chapter held at Kuching South City Council (MBKS) auditorium today.
From July 4, 2017 to May 18 this year, Department of Veterinary Service (DVS) assistant director Dr Nicholas Jenek said Sarawak has reported 59 human rabies deaths out of 66 human rabies cases.
In the first five months of this year alone, there have been nine deaths out of 11 rabies cases reported in Sarawak.
Animal bites, particularly dog bites, remained as the main cause of rabies transmission.
Dr Nicholas argued that stray dogs should not exist and humans are are responsible for this problem. “If we don’t change our mindset, this (rabies) problem will always be there.”
He thus called upon the community to collaborate and work together to eliminate rabies from Sarawak and urged petowners not to wait for mass vaccination campaign. Instead, he advised them to proactively bring their dogs and cats for vaccination at the DVS offices located throughout Sarawak.
“Vaccination is free and our offices in Kuching to Lawas are open 8am to 5pm from Monday to Friday,” he added.
Furthermore, he also encouraged pet owners to neuter their animals to prevent unwanted reproduction, which can lead to animal abandonment if adoption efforts failed.
“If you truly care for your pets, do the right and responsible thing. Owing a pet entails responsibility. It is not just about feeding the, but also ensuring their wellbeing by ensuring they received their annual vaccination, spaying or neutering and proper care,” he reminded. — DayakDaily