Rabies death toll rises to 12

Rabies can be spread through animal bites. — DayakDaily.com file pic

KUCHING, August 22: Another victim of rabies died yesterday, bringing the death toll to 12 since the outbreak of this deadly disease in the state in July last year. Only one victim has survived, but he now has severe neurological problems.

The 12th victim, who is a 44-year-old man from Matang, had never been bitten by a dog or any other animal, according to the Health Ministry. His only contact was an incident on Jan 13 this year when he hit a stray dog that had bitten his wife.

The details are sketchy, but it is understood that after hitting the dog, he suffered an open wound on his right hand. But he did not seek treatment despite sending his wife to the hospital for treatment and anti-rabies vaccination.

The dog, meanwhile, reportedly died later.

In a statement, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that on Aug 6, the man complained of pain in his wounded hand and was given outpatient treatment.

“His condition worsened on Aug 11, where his right hand became numb. He also suffered a few symptoms of being infected by rabies, including stiff neck and hydrophobia. The victim received treatment at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) Emergency Unit on Aug 16,” he added.

He succumbed to the feared disease at 10.15am, and clinical samples tested by the Medical Research Institute confirmed he had rabies encephalitis. His wife, however, is in good health and had completed her anti-rabies vaccination schedule with the administration of four doses.

On Aug 18, a 49-year-old farmer from Sri Aman also died of rabies infection at SGH.

So far, only one victim has survived the infection, but 8-year-old Muhamad Alfonda Michael from Serian has neurological complications and is on life support at home.

As of Aug 16, the state government declared 33 areas in Kuching, Serian, Samarahan, Sri Aman and Sarikei Divisions as rabies infected. — DayakDaily