Two more areas declared rabies-infected; Sarawak, West Kalimantan work to set up immune belt at border

Pet owners bring their dogs for vaccination at the Kota Padawan community hall on July

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KUCHING: Sarawak and the Indonesian province of Kalimantan Barat (Kalbar) have agreed to work together to set up an “immune belt” along the border they share as the containment effort in Sarawak failed with two more areas declared rabies-infected.

They are the Sungai Maong wet market in Kuching city and Kampung Serikin, a popular weekend border trading village in Bau.

This brings the total of rabies-affected areas to 22.

At the first meeting of the Sarawak-Kalimantan Rabies Outbreak Control and Prevention Special Committee’s at the border town of Tebedu yesterday, the committee agreed to Sarawak’s proposal to vaccinate all dogs within the proposed belt and to restrict their movement.

The committee was the result of the meeting between Uggah, who chairs the state disaster management committee, and the Indonesian Consul-General in Kuching last Wednesday.

It will be under the auspices of the cross border cooperation in socio-economic Malaysia-Indonesia (Sosek Malindo).

The rabies outbreak in Sarawak had claimed five lives with about 13 reported in West Kalimantan last week alone.

Infected dogs from West Kaliman had been blamed for the outbreak in Sarawak.
Kampung Paon Rimu Bakung, the village of Sarawak’s the first two victims to die from rabies encephalomyeliti – siblings Monica Mazlan, 6, and her brother Jackson, 4 – is just 5km from the border in Serian.

Since then, the town of Lachau, within walking distance to the border and Kampung Entubuh, a border village in Tebedu, have been declared rabies-infected.

Lachau is about 149km from Kuching.

The meeting also agreed to draw up a standard operating procedure (SOP) for their joint anti-rabies collaboration, ban the import and export of animals between the two areas, go on a rabies awareness drive in villages along the border and establish an official line of communication between the veterinary services departments of Sarawak and West Kalimantan.

A similar hotline would also be set up between the Sarawak Health Department with their counterpart in Kalimantan.

In the meantime, the Sarawak Health Department has set up four dog bite clinics – at the Sarawak general hospital, Serian hospital, Sentosa health clinic and the Sri Aman health clinic – to treat dog bite cases.

The health department had between April 1 and yesterday detected 879 people having been bitten by dogs.

402 of them were detected in the first 24 days of this