Rabies outbreak in Sarawak raised to Stage II

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

KUCHING, Jan 25: The State Disaster Management Committee today declares rabies outbreak in the state as being in Stage II.

This means management of the disaster would involve unified and coordinated efforts between more than one divisions in the state as well as cooperation between the state and federal governments.

The raising to Stage II came about after 16 human infection (15 died) cases to date, and 61 areas in the state, except Limbang Division, were positive with rabies outbreak.

The committee’s chairman, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, in a statement today, said the state police commissioner and state Bomba director would be responsible as the commander and deputy commander respectively of the rabies operation.

Uggah also proposed to apply Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN)’s `Directive 20’ to enhance rabies operation in the state.

This means better management for human rabies infection, more awareness programmes, coordinated and unified efforts in managing stray dogs, improving the diagnostic facility and surveillance operations, enforcing dogs licensing and vaccination, and more manpower and logistics to the operation.

He also urged dog owners not to let their dogs roam out freely and not to bring their dogs out of rabies-infected areas unless they have written approval from the State Veterinary Authority.

If anyone found to have committed the offence, compound of no more than RM5,000 or imprisonment of not more than three months or both will be carried out to offenders according to Section 37(2) and (3) of the Public Veterinary Health Ordinance 1999.

Meanwhile, Uggah, who is also a Deputy Chief Minister, revealed that to date, the state Veterinary Services Department had cumulatively vaccinated 110,435 dogs out of an estimated 225,000 in the state.

As of January 23, 2019, he said four out of six samples tested positive of rabies through direct fluorescent antibody tests.

The positive results were from the Samalaju Industrial Park junction along the Bintulu/Miri coastal highway, Kampung Grogo in Bau, Kampung Sibuluh in Bau, and Kampung Bobak Singai, also in Bau.

“Accumulatively, 949 samples have been collected in the state. Samples consisted of 861 dogs, 81 cats and seven others. Of the 338 positive, 315 samples are dogs and 23 cats,” said Uggah. — DayakDaily