Vets deployed to rabies-hit Serian

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas

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KUCHING: Veterinary Physicians from the Agriculture Department Veterinary Authority are deployed to Serian to study the current rabies outbreak there.

“We have to ascertain the source of the outbreak,” Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said late last night.

“That is the most critical part. Only from there, can we start mapping our strategy to contain the outbreak.

“Our focus is on containing the outbreak to ensure it won’t spread to other areas in Sarawak,” Uggah, who is also the Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, told reporters when asked for updates after attending Sarawak United People’s Party’s (SUPP) Kuching branch’s 58th anniversary gathering in Kuching.

Uggah said the priority of the committee that had been assembled to deal with the outbreak, was to have it “contained as soon as possible and into the smallest area possible.”

The Sarawak Health Department yesterday declared a “health alert” in the district after three children, aged between 4 and 7 – two of them siblings – were confirmed to have contracted rabies.

All three are reported “seriously ill” and in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the Sarawak general hospital (SGH).

Health director-general, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, in a statement said urine samples, saliva and skin biopsies of the victims that were sent to the Institute of Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur were tested positive for rabies virus.

The victims were a 4 year old boy, his 6 year-old sister, both from Kampung Paon in Sungai Rimu and a 7 year-old girl from Kampung Lebur in Gedong, 28km away.

The boy and his sister were believed to have been bitten by a dog “two to three months” earlier but the Health DG said it is not ascertained yet whether the third victim was ever bitten by a dog.

Uggah also said the authorities had invited the Sarawak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) to assist in dealing with the outbreak for their expertise in dogs and dog behaviour.

“We need feedback from them on what are the best steps to take.

“Working with NGOs is important because their feedback will make sure there are no unnecessary issues,” he said. –