Rabies fatalities: Public urged to treat dog bites as a matter of life and death

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas

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KUCHING, Oct 10: The public has been urged to take heed of warnings from public health authorities and to seek immediate treatment at the Rabies Clinic of the nearest hospital when bitten by animals, following news of another death from rabies.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah confirmed yesterday (Oct 9) that a 64-year-old man from Mukah has become the latest victim to succumb to rabies. The victim died at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Bintulu Hospital on Aug 19.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, who was very upset with people’s indifferent attitude towards the issue despite information and warnings being widely circulated, stressed that this simple rule will save life especially now that the state is facing the deadly rabies outbreak.

The latest case brings the total reported rabies fatality cases to 20 of the 21 human cases recorded since the rabies outbreak was declared in Sarawak in July 2017.

According to information from the State Veterinary Office in Mukah, Uggah said the victim was bitten in Kanowit on May 21 by one of two dogs he had adopted from a relative in Sibu.

“He was bitten when feeding them. Although he was advised to seek treatment for the bite wound, he refused saying it was not serious,” he explained in a media release today.

“It was only on Aug 6 that he sought treatment at the Bintulu Hospital. And he died on Aug 19 at the ICU,” he added.

Uggah, who is the chairman of the State Disaster Management Committee, believed that the man would not have succumbed to rabies had he heeded the many and repeated advice given to the public.

“I repeat it here… the instant after being bitten, the victim must wash the bite wound with soap and running water for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Then, seek treatment at once. This is very important whether the wound is serious or otherwise,” he said.

“We have cases where those who had sought treatment at the clinics had recovered. We have the facilties there to treat,” he emphasised.

Uggah pointed out that animal bite cases, particularly from dogs and cats, were still high in Sarawak with an average of between 40 to 60 cases daily, according to Health Ministry records.

“So my other advice is please try to avoid getting bitten. Again, when you want to adopt any dog, please make sure you know where it originates from, whether it has been vaccinated and when. If it had not been vaccinated, get it vaccinated soonest,” he urged. — DayakDaily