Rabies claims 4th victim in Sarawak this year

A member of the public holds his dog secure before it is vaccinated at the mass rabies vaccination programme in Taman Heng Guan, Matang. - file pic

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KUCHING, Oct 22: A 34-year old woman from Sibu died of rabies encephalities, the fourth victim to have succumbed to the disease in the state this year.

Director-general of Health Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah disclosed in a statement that based on investigation the victim was bitten by her pet dog in late 2018 but did not seek treatment at any health facility.

It was reported that her pet dog which mixed freely with a number of strays that roamed the vicinity of her house near a landfill was never given anti-rabies vaccine.

According to Dr Noor Hisham, the victim died on Oct 18 at 11.30am at Sibu Hospital where she was admitted on Oct 16 after experiencing weakness in both of her legs for five days. The woman was confirmed to be infected with rabies virus via a laboratory test conducted by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) on Oct 19.

“This brings the total cumulative cases of rabies in Sarawak to 26 cases, since its outbreak on July 31, 2017 until Oct 21,” he revealed.

Dr Noor Hisham noted the deceased’s pet dog was put down by members of the public following another incident in which another individual was also bitten.

“However, no sample from the dog was sent to the Department of Veterinary Service (DVS) Sarawak for a rabies virus test.

“The Sibu Division Health Department had alerted the local authority to round up the stray dogs roaming near the deceased’s house,” he disclosed.

Dr Noor Hisham also gave assurance that his ministry and the Sarawak Health Department (JKN) will continue to cooperate with the Sarawak government, Department of Veterinary Services and other agencies to implement comprehensive prevention and control of rabies virus infection. – DayakDaily.