Situation under control

Uggah (third left) talking to a pet owner while visiting Serian Community Hall, one of four centres where JPVS carries out its free vaccination for pet dogs and cats from Serian and nearby villages.

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said he is satisfied with the containment strategy adopted by the state to counter the outbreak of rabies in Serian.

Uggah, who is also Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, said the situation was under control.

“I am satisfied with handling of the matter if we look at the cooperation of the public and big number of dogs and cats which have been vaccinated. I am satisfied with the SOP (standard operating procedure) in containing the outbreak – firstly by vaccinating cats and dogs and secondly, the removal of cats and dogs which look suspicious (possibly infected with rabies),” he said when contacted by telephone yesterday.

He added that as of yesterday, 43 dogs were removed from the streets at ground zero in Serian.

Uggah acknowledged the strong presence of members of the public and private groups in assisting the 22 teams in the fight against  the rabies outbreak at ground zero and also in areas within a 10km radius from ground zero.

He said the steps and actions taken would be reviewed from time to time in order for the war against rabies to be effective.

“Our concern for the people is as much as those in the whole country. With three lives lost and one more hanging in the balance, who does not? But I thank the people who cooperated with us – be they public or private groups – in beefing up our manpower to implement the vaccination programme,” he said.

JPVS personnel administering rabies vaccine on a cat.

At a Kampung Melayu Ramah Tamah Aidilfitri held at Dewan Panglima Rentap in Betong earlier on, Uggah called upon individuals who have been bitten by a dog or cat to seek immediate treatment at the nearest clinic or hospital even if he or she lives outside the rabies-infected area as advised by doctors following the rabies outbreak in Serian that has claimed three lives.

“As the State Disaster Management Committee chairman, I am now busy with dogs and cats because the rabies outbreak in Serian has claimed three lives while another victim is still receiving treatment at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH). Therefore my advice, which was given to me by the doctors, is that if any of our children or grandchildren have been bitten by a dog or cat, the first thing we should do is to immediately clean the wound and bring them for treatment at the nearest clinic or hospital,” he said.

He also pointed out that doctors have informed that if immediate treatment is administered to rabies victims, the disease can be treated.

“If you have seen any dogs or cats which look unwell or if they are strays, please report this immediately to the Betong District Council so that they can take immediate action to trap the animals.

“I will also direct those who are responsible including from Kuching to take action immediately on this matter,” he said.

According to him, more than 20 dogs and cats in the rabies infected zone have contracted the virus and these areas are near the border with a neighbouring country.

Meanwhile, the State Disaster Management Committee secretariat in a statement yesterday said 26 new dog bite cases have been detected which occurred between July 2 and yesterday.

“Of the 26 cases, 19 of these bite cases occurred today (yesterday). This brings the cumulative number of dog bite cases since April 1 until today (yesterday) to 332,” said a spokesperson, who also noted that 235 people have been given rabies vaccination.

The spokesperson also called on those who have been bitten by dogs in the rabies-infected area to immediately come forward to have themselves checked at Serian Hospital and to receive the vaccination.

“At the moment, the vaccine is given to dog and cat bite cases which occurred in the rabies-infected area that fulfilled the clinical criteria.”

Those whose pets have been given vaccination are also advised not to allow their pets to wander and not to play with them for the time being.

Until yesterday, the Sarawak Veterinary Services Department (JPVS) has vaccinated 5,850 pets, comprising 1,626 dogs; 4,199 cats and 25 other animals.

“A total of 516 dogs and 1,019 cats from 263 pet owners have been vaccinated in Serian town yesterday (Saturday) and the vaccination drive continues today (yesterday) from 10am to 4pm in the same venue.”

JPVS also carried out 68 awareness campaigns on the rabies outbreak at the rabies-infected area, attended by 4,862 villagers and students.

The department will continue its investigation on reported rabies cases in Serian.

It also called for cooperation from pet owners to keep their pets in cages and to observe their behaviour.

Those coming across animals that have changed from tame to fierce, have hydrophobia and fear of light, and are salivating excessively and aggressive among others, are urged to report them to the JPVS Operation Room by calling 082-621949 or 082-611607.



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