Sarawak declares 7 more rabies-infected areas

Uggah (fourth left) and Dr Sim (third left) are seen at the briefing.

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KUCHING, Nov 15: Seven new areas have been declared as rabies-infected today, bringing to 54 the total number of rabies-positive localities in the state.

The State Disaster Management Committee listed the new areas as Pekan Baru Balingian, Pekan Baru Mukah and Tanjong Manis in Mukah Division, KM2 Jalan Kanowit-Durin in Kanowit, Betong Vocational College area in Betong, Pekan Sebauh in Bintulu and Kampung Long Miri in Telang Usan.

“These areas have been declared as rabies-infected considering that they are situated outside the 10km radius from other localities throughout the state that have been identified as rabies-positive areas.

“The new areas were discovered following increased surveillance activities across the state,” the committee said in a statement today.

Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, who is also the state disaster committee chairman, was briefed on the Rabies Outbreak Audit by the Veterinary Services Department led by Dr Marzuki Zakaria and officers from the Health Ministry.

State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian was also present at the briefing, which also touched on suggestions and input to improve the management of the rabies outbreak.

Among the areas that would be audited includes the effectiveness of the vaccination programme, enforcement on animal movement, lab capacity, monitoring of stray dogs, public awareness programme and campaigns, the effectiveness of outbreak investigation, the capacity of resources and logistics as well as management of rabies outbreak report and operations room.

“The public is advised to not let their pet dogs roam freely or move them away from rabies-infected areas without written permission from the State Veterinary Authority,” the committee said.

A fine of not more than RM5,000 or jail not exceeding three months or both will be imposed on individuals found guilty of violating Section 37 (2) and (3) of the Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999.

The 54 rabies-infected areas in Sarawak affected five localities in Kuching, three in Samarahan, Serian (22), Sri Aman (3), Betong (2), Sarikei (4), Sibu (2), Mukah (4), Bintulu (3), Miri (5) and one in Kapit.

Since the rabies outbreak in the state last year, the authorities have removed 11,873 stray dogs off the streets while administering vaccination on 95,223 dogs, 8,496 cats and 56 other animals.

A total of 258 samples collected from dogs and 15 from cats have been found positive or rabies.

The state Health Department has so far reported 13 confirmed cases of rabies in Sarawak, 12 of whom have succumbed to the disease and one is on life support. — DayakDaily