Selangau man succumbs to rabies, becomes Sarawak’s 33rd fatality

Dogs. — DayakDaily file pic

KUCHING, June 10: A 45-year-old man from Selangau has become Sarawak’s latest fatality due to rabies.

Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in a statement today disclosed that the man tested positive for rabies encephalitis on May 11, making him the fourth case this year.

The victim was staying at a sawmill factory workers’ quarters in Stapang, Selangau.

“Investigations carried out revealed that he has a history of being bitten twice, on his calf and chin by two different dogs belonging to his colleague within the vicinity of his workplace in February and March. However, he never sought medical treatment after being bitten by the dogs, nor did he wash the wounds with running water and soap for 15 minutes.

“The dog owner had killed both dogs but did not hand over the carcasses to the Sarawak Veterinary Services Department for further investigation,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

On May 6, the victim was admitted to Sibu Hospital due to hydrophobia, fever, headache, and sore throat, and also experienced pain while drinking water.

His condition began to deteriorate from May 9.

On May 10, clinical samples for the rabies virus was taken and sent to Sarawak General Hospital (SDH) and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).

The next day, his test results came back positive.

The man died on May 12 at 1.24am.

Since the rabies outbreak was declared on Sarawak on July 1, 2017, Dr Noor Hisham said the state has recorded 35 cases with 33 deaths.

The two surviving cases are children. Both have severe neurological complications resulting from the infection.

“When rabies virus infection occurs through bite wounds which are not treated immediately, it can lead to death especially when the infection spreads to the brain.

“Therefore, the Ministry of Health (MOH) once again appeals to the public, especially those in Sarawak to remain vigilant and always take preventive measures against rabies,” Dr Noor Hisham advised.

While MOH and the Sarawak Health Department continue to work and ensure that rabies prevention and control measures among the population such as administrating anti-rabies vaccines and immunoglobulins to individuals suspected of being infected with the rabies virus based on risk assessment, he asserted that they need the the community’s cooperation to comply with all advice and instructions issued by the authorities to ensure that this epidemic in Sarawak can be eradicated. — DayakDaily