Thursday, August 18

Rabies spreads to Sibu, Kapit, Miri


State Disaster Management Committee to review strategy against rabies following spread of disease

Map shows rabies infected areas in Sarawak.

KUCHING: Rabies has spread to Sibu, Miri and Kapit divisions, making the total number of rabies localities to 41 thus far.

This was affirmed by the State Disaster Management Committee yesterday when it declared five new areas – Jalan Teng Chin Hua in Sibu; Jalan Kilang (Bintangor) Meradong (Sarikei); Jalan Airport Lama (Kapit); Piasau Jaya (Miri) and Lutong Shell (Miri) – as rabies-infected.

Responding to this latest spread of rabies in Sarawak, Datuk Amar Douglas Embass the committee chairman said in a press statement yesterday he is calling a full committee meeting next Tuesday to reassess the polices adopted in fighting the disease.

The meeting will also review the steps taken so far and explore new measures to curb the spread of the disease.

“Besides the existing committee, we are also inviting new bodies and NGO such as
SSPCA and Malaysian Medical council to attend the meeting,” he said.

The State Disaster Management Committee also released a statement yesterday advising members of the public to avoid adopting or purchasing dogs of unknown vaccination status and sources.

The public are also advised to have their dogs vaccinated against rabies, and to call the nearest Veterinary Office if their pets show signs of rabies such as turning aggressive, biting of objects, excessive salivation and in-coordination.

Those who have not had their dogs vaccinated must bring them to the nearest Divisional Veterinary Office for anti-rabies vaccination from 8am to 10am from Monday to Friday (except public holiday) or to the nearest private veterinary clinics.

Annual booster is required to ensure that the pet is fully protected.

The public can also access the Sarawak Disaster Information Facebook page, Instagram and Youtube for more updated information regarding upcoming anti-rabies mass vaccination and the current situation of rabies in Sarawak.

The public are also encouraged to communicate to the government through the above portals.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Veterinary Association (SVA) president Dr Chuo Hock Tieng, when contacted, called for the relevant authorities to conduct roadblocks to deter infected animals from being transferred out of rabies infected areas.

According to him, Section 37(2) and (3) of the Public Health Ordinance 1999 stated that it is an offence to let dogs room freely (in rabies infested areas), and to take stray dogs from rabies infested areas.

“No dogs are to be moved out from rabies infected areas without getting a written permission from the State Veterinary Authority,” Chuo warned yesterday.

A fine of not more than RM5,000, or jail term of not more than three months, or both, will be meted out on any offender.

Thus far, rabies on human has killed 12 people in Sarawak from the time it was first detected in June last year.

To mark World Rabies Awareness Day, The Borneo Post has teamed up with Sarawak Health Department and members of the local Dog Bite Clinic in Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) to help deliver a message to the public with the hope of raising awareness of the deadly virus — how to protect ourselves against it and the appropriate steps to take in the event of a dog bite.

  • See pages 12 and 13 for write up on rabies.