Farmer, 49, latest rabies victim in Sarawak

KUCHING: Sarawak recorded its latest human rabies victim yesterday after a 49-year-old man from Sri Aman Division was confirmed to be infected with the virus.

The man, identified only as an Iban farmer has been warded at the Infectious Disease Ward in Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) yesterday, and was reported in critical condition.

He is the 12th human rabies victim in Sarawak since the first infection on June 30, last year. Ten victims including two young siblings from Paon Rimu, Serian, have passed away, while one with neurology complications is now being treated at home.

Health Ministry director general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the latest patient had a history of being bitten by a pet dog in January this year, but did not seek immediate treatment.

“On Aug 11, the patient sought treatment at Serian Hospital due to fever and breathing difficulties. While at the ward, he showed signs of hydrophobia and was also weak. He was then referred to Sarawak General Hospital on Aug 14, and is now warded at the Infectious Disease Ward in critical condition.”

Dr Noor Hisham also said the dog which bit the patient, had died a week after the biting incident. It is learnt the dog had mixed freely with stray dogs, and could have been exposed to the virus, although no verification was made to determine the cause of the dog’s death.

He said another person was also bitten by the same dog in January. He was given anti-rabies vaccination on Aug 16,
and is seemingly well, but the Sarawak Health Department would continue to monitor his condition for a period of six months.

It usually takes some time before a person bitten by a rabid animal, starts to develop symptoms if immediate treatment is not sought.

Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry and Sarawak Health Department remained committed in controlling the spread of the disease.

“We will continue to work together with the Sarawak  government, Veterinary Services Department and other relevant agencies to implement preventive measures and steps to control the spread of rabies,” he said.

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