Bleak prognosis for seventh rabies victim, says Dr Sim

KUCHING: The prognosis for the state’s seventh human rabies case is bleak, according to Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian.

He said the fact that the victim, a 59-year-old man from Jalan Batu Kawa-Matang, did not get proper treatment after being bitten by a dog in November last year made matters all the more saddening.

“It takes two to three months for the (rabies) virus to reach your brain. The outlook for him (victim) is 99 per cent chances of dying and 1 per cent (for) survival. I don’t call it a good thing.

“That’s why we must continue to make sure our people in Sarawak are safe from rabies. We have no choice because I don’t want to lose anyone of you unnecessarily,” he said during an appreciation dinner for Kuching South City Council (MBKS) staff here on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, Dr Sim disclosed that the victim is now in critical condition at the Sarawak General Hospital.

In the post, he also revealed he had met victim three weeks ago but that the latter did not mention about him not seeking any rabies vaccination.

Dr Sim also wrote that he had just heard of another case of a person who was bitten by a dog last week but had yet to seek any treatment.

He pointed out that post-exposure bite vaccinations, though costing RM1,600 for four doses, can be received for free at government hospitals, and urged those bitten by dogs to immediately get treatment at government hospitals.

Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (JPBN), in statement on Saturday, mentioned the victim sought treatment at a private clinic after he was bitten by a dog on Nov 27, but was not referred to a government medical facility to receive vaccination.

On Jan 20, the man experienced pain and weak limbs and was subsequently admitted to a private hospital four days later.

He was then referred to Sarawak General Hospital on Jan 25 for further treatment after showing signs of hydrophobia, hallucination and aggression, with a lab test on Friday confirming he was infected by the rabies virus.

JPBN also revealed that the state Health Department had issued a warning letter to the private clinic for failing to report the dog bite case and for failing to refer the case to any government clinic or hospital.

Meanwhile, MBKS Mayor Datuk James Chan, who also spoke at the appreciation dinner, said the council faced difficulties when carrying out operations to catch stray dogs as part of efforts to control the spread of rabies.

“Whenever we do an operation, we get blocked by groups of young persons. And yet, I have met people, like women at the Stutong market, who ask us to catch the stray dogs.

“Maybe, we need to have a roundtable talk with the relevant non-governemtnal organisations (to explain the matter),” he said.

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