Rabies claims fourth victim

SGH staff carrying the remains of Florancesia to the mortuary. (Inset) A downloaded Facebook photo of the late Florancesia Edward.

KUCHING: The rabies outbreak in Serian has claimed another life, bringing the death toll to four. The fourth victim of rabies encephalomyelitis succumbed to the disease at 2.05pm yesterday – four days after the third victim died.

Florancesia Edward, five, passed away at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here. The third victim Alicesa Lorenna Nody, seven, from Kampung Lebor Serian died on July 13, around 2.15pm.

On July 4, two young siblings – six-year-old Monica Mazlan and her four-year-old brother Jackson Mazlan – from Kampung Sungai Paun Sungai Rimu passed away at the SGH at 1.43pm and 1.46pm respectively after their life support system was removed.

Florancesia was the second of three children comprising two girls and a boy. Her other siblings are six and four years old. Family members claimed her remains around 4pm.

When contacted yesterday, her grandfather Kutek Rintan, 58, said the funeral wake and burial service would be held today at Kampung Ampungan, Serian. She was warded at the ICU of the SGH here on July 4 before succumbing to the disease yesterday afternoon.

Florancesia was bitten on the left hand by a dog at Kampung Seroban – located within a 10km radius from the area where the three earlier cases were detected – on the last week of May. Subsequently she was brought to Serian Hospital to get treatment for the wound and received 10 stitches.

When met at the SGH earlier on, Kutek said his granddaughter’s wound appeared to be healing in May and early June but towards the end of June and early July, she showed some signs of illness.

On July 3, the girl was reported to have shown symptoms of fever, with pain in her left arm and she appeared lethargic. She was sent to Serian Hospital and transferred to SGH the next day (July 4) where she was later placed at the ICU as her condition worsened.

Starting yesterday morning, a constant flow of family members and friends came to visit her at SGH, with some expressing anguish and anxiety. When queried, a relative claimed that villagers beat up and killed the dog out of anger and later ‘barbequed and ate the dog.’ However as at press time, this claim could not be verified.

Florancesia’s case was among the 97 cases of dog bite recorded from July 2 to yesterday. State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) through a media statement confirmed this.

Relatives waiting to hear news about Florancesia.

Twenty-four of these cases were actually registered yesterday alone.

Cumulatively, cases recorded from April 1 till yesterday is 368. A total of 251 people have been vaccinated.

Up to yesterday, the State Veterinary Services Department (JPVS) has vaccinated 7,655 pets – 2,205 dogs, 5,424 cats and 26 other animals.

Yesterday alone, 545 dogs and 1,174 cats were vaccinated.

A total of 73 stray dogs had been removed from the street in Serian town, SDMC said through the media statement.

On July 1, the Health Ministry declared a rabies outbreak in Serian following the result of laboratory test on June 30.

The state government had also declared that five villages in Serian; namely Kampung Kerait, Kampung  Paun Rimu, Kampung Paun Rimu Bakung, Kampung Remun and Kampung Lebor as rabies infected areas.

Meanwhile, Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in a media statement said no new rabies case was reported.

However, he referred to a July 16 JPVS press statement that a dog in Kuala Sepetang, Taiping in Perak has been found positive with rabies on July 15.

The dog has bitten two children on July 4. Both children were given outpatient treatment. They did not show any symptom and are in stable condition. The Perak Health Department also conducted control and preventive measures in Larut Matang and Selama districts, he said.

Then a six-year-old child was warded in the hospital in Melaka because the child has a history of dog bite in Serian, he added.

Early probe suggested that the test on the child was negative and that the child was in stable condition. However the authority will be monitoring the situation because the incubation period involving rabies is long, he said.

Thus far, the Health Ministry did not receive any more rabies case involving human being in Melaka and Perak as of yesterday, he pointed out.



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