KUCHING, June 13: The rabies outbreak in Sarawak has claimed its 18th victim — a 61-year-old woman from Pending.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the victim passed away at 10.47pm yesterday at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH), where she had been receiving intensive care since June 8.
He added that the victim was bitten by a stray dog on her right thumb on April 29 this year when she tried to chase away a dog that was barking at her.
The victim washed her wound for about five minutes and immediately sought treatment at a community clinic near her home. Another appointment was then set for a week later, but she did not show up for the follow-up treatment as she thought that her wound had healed, he explained.
“On June 6, she felt sick and discomfort on her right arm. She went to SGH (June 8) and was immediately administered Rabies immunoglobulin (RIG).
“The next day, she complained of nausea, headache, difficulty to swallow water (hydrophobia), discomfort on her right arm and weak at her lower body,” Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement today.
To date, rabies encephalitis cases among humans in Sarawak since the outbreak of the disease was declared in the state on July 1, 2017, has reached 19, including 18 deaths.
From the 19 cases, three were reported this year.
A sole survivor, a seven-year-old boy, was discharged from SGH early last year and is currently receiving treatment at home due to neurological complications.
The state Health Department has issued a notice to all medical practitioners in Sarawak to ensure the administration of animal-bite cases followed the guidelines that had been set for animal bite cases.
Cases with the risk of rabies infection or victims who did not seek follow-up treatment must be informed immediately to the nearest Health office so that the victims could be traced.
“To avoid rabies infection, the Health Ministry reminds the people to wash their bite wound with soap and running water for at least 15 minutes and immediately seek treatment at the nearest government clinic or hospital.
“The public must also avoid being bitten by dogs or wild animals considering that many areas in Sarawak are declared as rabies positive,” Dr Noor Hisham said.
He added that public cooperation is vital for rabies control and preventive measures to succeed. — DayakDaily