Thursday, August 6

Rabies claims 19th victim after man from Padawan confirmed to have been infected


Medical personnel transporting the remains of a previous victim of rabies. The disease has claimed its 19th victim so far since the first outbreak in June 2017. File Photo

KUCHING: The Ministry of Health has confirmed that the 46-year-old man from Padawan who died at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) on Aug 7 was infected by the rabies virus.

Director General of Health Malaysia Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in a statement said the result was obtained from the Institute for Medical Research, Malaysia yesterday (Aug 9).

“The deceased was bitten on the back of his right palm on June 15 when he was trying to catch his pet dog inside his house compound,” said Noor Hisham.

On that same day, his eight-year-old daughter was also bitten by the same dog, whom the family had adopted some time in May 2019.

On June 17, he brought his daughter to a clinic and was referred to the SGH’s Post Bite Clinic (PBC).

They visited the PBC on June 18 where the daughter received the first dose for the rabies vaccination.

“Throughout the visits at the PBC for follow-ups, he did not inform medical staff there that he had also been bitten by the same dog,” said Noor Hisham.

On July 29, he started to suffer from headaches and muscle pain to his right shoulder.

He then sought treatment at two different clinics on July 31 and Aug 2 without informing the clinic staff that he had been bitten by a dog.

On Aug 3, when the symptoms of the virus worsened did he finally admit to medical staff at SGH that he had been bitten.

He was then put in an isolation ward at the SGH with advance symptoms of the virus such as having hydrophobia and aerophobia. He succumbed to the virus at 2.51am on Aug 7.

It was also revealed that the deceased’s eight year-old daughter is healthy and is currently being monitored by health authorities.

As of today, 19 individuals have succumbed to the rabies virus since July 1, 2017. Only one victim who remains in a comatose state is still alive.

“Out of the 20 cases, four took place in 2019, where dogs were fostered without any knowledge of their vaccination record,” said Noor Hisham.

The ministry is strongly advising the public to not foster or adopt any pets without knowledge of the animal’s past vaccination record.