Death toll due to rabies rises to 15

Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

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KUCHING, Dec 11: The rabies outbreak in Sarawak has claimed its 15th victim after a 64-year-old man succumbed to the disease today.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the victim passed away at 6.43am at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH), where he had been receiving intensive care since Dec 2.

The victim from Kuching was bitten by a puppy in the middle of September, which he and his wife had taken in a week before. After the incident, the couple released the puppy in the Matang area.

The couple did not seek treatment for the dog bites and only washed their wounds, Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement.

On Nov 27, the husband began to feel pain in his knees. Feeling weak, he went to a private clinic for treatment.

He was admitted to SGH when his condition deteriorated and was placed in the Infectious Diseases Ward for further observation. The wife, however, did not show any symptoms of rabies and was given anti-rabies vaccine only.

“Death rate due to rabies infection is very high. In Sarawak, it is recorded at 93.8 per cent and chances to fully recover is very slim if a victim did not clean his bite wounds properly and seek medical treatment immediately.

“The Health Ministry would like to remind the public to wash their wounds with soap and running water for at least 15 minutes to get rid of the animal’s saliva,” he said and advised dog owners to send their pets for vaccination and to always keep them in their compounds to avoid mixing with stray dogs.

He also advised the public from picking up dogs with unknown rabies status.

On Friday, a 74-year-old man died from rabies infection at 3.15am.

The elderly man, also a resident of Kuching, had complained of chest pains on the left side of his body and sought treatment at a private clinic. The following day (Nov 25), he was rushed to SGH after his condition worsened.

He was moved to the Intensive Care Unit three days later, only to succumb to the disease.

Both victims were the 15th and 16th rabies cases among humans in Sarawak since its outbreak on June 30 last year. A sole survivor, a seven-year-old boy, was discharged from SGH early this year and is currently receiving treatment at home due to neurological complications.

As at Dec 7, the state government has declared 56 areas across Sarawak as rabies-infected, except in Limbang Division. — DayakDaily