Sarawak rabies outbreak claims 11th victim

A dog being administered anti-rabies vaccine during a vaccination programme. - filephoto DayakDaily.com

KUCHING, August 17: A 49-year-old farmer from Sri Aman who was admitted to the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) on Tuesday with rabies infection, has died.

His death marks the 11th fatality from the viral outbreak, which began in July last year, and now the death rate in the state has hit 92 per cent.

The Health Ministry, in a statement, said the victim was the 12th person to be infected with rabies in Sarawak since the spread of the disease on June 30, 2017. He succumbed to the disease at 3.57 am on Saturday.

“The cause of death was due to Encephalitis Rabies. The Health Ministry expresses its condolences to his family,” it said.

According to Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the man was bitten by his pet dog in January this year but did not seek treatment afterwards. The dog, which mixed freely with stray dogs, died a week after biting him. However, the dog’s cause of death could not be determined.

The victim was admitted to Serian Hospital on Aug 11 after complaining of fever and breathing problems, where he also showed symptoms of hydrophobia. He was referred to SGH here on Aug 14 and was already in critical condition.

Meanwhile, the ministry also revealed another person had been admitted to SGH on Aug 16 and would be the 13th human rabies-infection case.

The victim, a 44-year-old man from Matang, said he had never been bitten by a dog or any other animal apart from hitting a stray dog that had bitten his wife on Jan 13, this year.

It is understood that he had suffered an open wound on his right hand after he hit the dog, which had reportedly died later. The Health Ministry said he never sought any treatment since, but his wife had been given a rabies shot afterwards at the hospital.

On Aug 6, the man complained of having pain on his right hand and received outpatient treatment to his wounded hand.

The condition worsened on Aug 11, where his right hand became numb. He also suffered a few symptoms of being infected by rabies.

He was brought to the SGH Emergency Unit for further treatment on Thursday and clinical tests are being done to determine if he was indeed infected by the disease.

“Currently the patient is in stable condition,” the statement said.

Ten people have died from rabies in Sarawak since the outbreak. Only one victim survived the infection – 8-year-old Muhamad Alfonda Michael from Serian – who is now at home with neurological complications and on life support.

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