MoH confirms rabies fatality, victim bitten in Indonesia

Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

KUCHING, Dec 19: The Ministry of Health (MoH) confirmed that an Indonesian woman, who had contracted rabies in her home country, had died here but this case will not be included in Malaysia’s rabies case statistics.

Director-general of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said notification of this case to the Indonesian Ministry of Health was made through the International Health Regulations (IHR) Focal Point Malaysia-Indonesia.

“This case involved a 69-year-old Indonesian woman who lived in Sanggau, Indonesia. In September this year, she was bitten on her left leg by her pet dog. During the incident, the animal behaved aggressively and abnormally towards the owner without any provocation,” he elaborated in a press statement issued today.


Dr Noor Hisham was referring to a news report dated Dec 17 by a local daily titled ‘Indonesian rabies victim dies in Kuching’.

“The patient received treatment in Indonesia. However, the details of the treatment cannot be confirmed,” he added.

According to the press statement, the patient had complained of back pain and had difficulty in walking on Dec 9, 2018. She then received further treatment twice at a medical facility in Indonesia.

On Dec 13, 2018, the patient’s condition deteriorated and she was then transferred to a private hospital in Kuching.

The next day, family members of the patient transferred her to another private hospital, also in Kuching. The patient had started to show severe neurology symptoms such as confusion, weakness in both legs and inability to swallow.

“The patient was treated in an Intensive Care Unit but unfortunately, she passed away on Dec 17, 2018 at 6am. The laboratory test on Dec 18 came back rabies positive,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

“This case which is confirmed to be rabies will not be included in Malaysia’s rabies case statistics because the patient was bitten in her home country of Indonesia,” he added.

The number of cases of rabies in humans in Sarawak since the declaration of the epidemic on July 1, 2017 until Dec 18, 2018 remained at 16 cases including 15 deaths. The last rabies case was confirmed on Dec 10, 2018.

“The Sarawak government together with Ministry of Health, Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) and other agencies are ready to cooperate with the Indonesian authorities to control rabies among dogs, especially along the Malaysia-Indonesia border to ensure control of rabies infection can be implemented thoroughly,” Dr Noor Hisham said. — DayakDaily