KUCHING: The current strategies to combat rabies in the state will be reviewed during a three-day anti-rabies outbreak workshop that will held in Kuching beginning January 16.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said the workshop has been organised with a view to help officials enhance the current anti-rabies strategies or to develop new ones in the state’s fight against the virus outbreak which started in July last year.
All relevant agencies in rabies management including the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), the police, armed forces, People’s Voluntary Corps (Rela) and the Sabah and Putrajaya Veterinary Services Departments will be participating in the workshop.
According to Uggah who is also State Disaster Management Committee chairman, there is a need to end the outbreak which is now affecting 60 areas statewide, except for the Limbang Division.
“The deadly disease is still with us after it was first detected on July 1, 2017 in Kampong Paon Rimu in Serian. Four days late, Serian was declared as the state’s first rabies-infected area,” he said after chairing a state steering committee on the rabies outbreak today.
To date, there have been 15 official fatalities caused by rabies and one victim who is still in comatose state.
Uggah added it was a matter of great concern as that there had been almost 20,000 reported cases of dog bites in the state.
“Unfortunately, lately there is the lackadaisical response from dog owners toward our vaccination programme. We appeal to them to come forward to get their pets vaccinated before it is too late,” he said.
He also urged owners who had their dogs vaccinated last July to get them revaccinated after a year lapse.
On the estimated 225,000 dog population in the state, he said a total of 109,216 had been vaccinated. “Our target this year is to vaccinate at least 70 per cent ,” he guided.
He stressed that the ongoing vaccination operations would continue until the state is declared rabies free.
“We have received very good support from the federal government.This shows that our relation with the federal government is still very good,” he said.
On test carried out on the dogs, Uggah revealed that out of the 928 samples tested, 323 had been found positive for the disease.
And some 14,030 dogs, mostly strays, had been removed.
“The fight against rabies has been very challenging. This is due to the sheer size of the state and its porous borders with Kalimantan Indonesia where the disease is believed to have originated from.
“In addition, there are many dogs including stray ones in plantations deep in the interiors or close to the borders,” he said.
Meanwhile, the meeting was also attended by Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr. Sim Kui Hian, Deputy State Secretary Datu Jaul Samion and Nadma director-general Datuk Mohtar Mohd Abd Rahman.
Others present were the state police chief Datuk Azman Yusuf, First Infantry Divsion commander Major General Datuk Toh Choon Siang, Sarawak Veterinary Services Department director Dr.Adrian Susin and the Sarawak Health Department director Dr. Jamilah Hashim.