Sarawak records sixth rabies death this year

KUALA LUMPUR (BERNAMA) – A 16-year-old girl who succumbed to rabies on November 11 is the latest and sixth victim to die from the disease in Sarawak this year, Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said.

He said the case is the 28th since a rabies outbreak was declared in Sarawak on July 31, 2017.

“The teenager died at 3.45pm at the Sarawak General Hospital (HUS), and was confirmed to be infected with the rabies virus following laboratory tests conducted by the Medical Research Institute (IMR) on November 12,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“She was admitted to HUS on November 10 after she had fever for three days, felt weakness in the lower limbs, had aggressive tendencies as well as symptoms of aerophobia and hydrophobia.

“There was no history of dog or other animal bites. She only had some healed scratch marks on the right leg but her family members could not give details about this.

“She had four cats and a dog as pets and all them are in healthy state and have not shown any behaviour changes, though they have never been vaccinated,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said deaths due to rabies infection could be prevented, by washing the body part bitten by the animal with running water and soap for 15 minutes, to get rid of traces of saliva and seeking immediate medical treatment.

“Make sure pet dogs get their yearly rabies shot at the nearest veterinary clinic, keep them away from other stray dogs or animals, and report to the local authorities if there are strays roaming the area,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry and the State Health Department would continue to monitor the rabies situation in Sarawak, and share the latest related information with Sarawak Veterinary Services Department (DVS) and DVS Malaysia, to ensure rabies prevention and control measures are implemented promptly and comprehensively.

“It is important that Sarawakians give their cooperation by taking heed of advice from the government and the authorities, to keep rabies under control in the state. Do not let pets roam or abandon them in public areas,” he said.