KUCHING: A 64-year-old man from Mukah has become the latest victim to succumb to rabies, reveals the Ministry of Health.
Its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the victim passed away at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Bintulu Hospital on August 19.
“He was bitten by a dog who was given by his relative in Kanowit,” he said in a statement today.
The latest case brings the total of reported rabies fatality cases to 20 since the rabies outbreak was declared in Sarawak in July 2017.
Noor Hisham said as of Oct 3, there are 21 human cases of rabies recorded in the state, of which a nine-year-old who suffered severe neurological damage and is currently on life support, remains as the sole survivor.
He pointed out that with the outbreak now in its third year, the number of animal-bite cases, particularly from dogs and cats, are still high.
“It averages from 40 to 60 cases a day at a rate that is similar to that of the first year of the rabies outbreak.”
He also noted that a large number of dogs and cats who bit their victims this year were found to have tested positive for rabies.
“According to a report from the Department of Veterinary Services Sarawak, a total of 138 (32.8 per cent) samples taken from 420 dogs and cats had tested positive for rabies as of Sept 30.”
Noor Hisham stressed that all rabies cases could have been avoided if the bite wound is properly cleaned to eliminate the saliva of the infected animal and the victim should seek treatment at a health facility immediately.
“Dog bites or scratches are the leading cause of almost all reported rabies cases.
“Five of 21 rabies cases involved victims who were bitten by dogs adopted from other individuals where the vaccination status of the dog is unknown,” he said, adding that almost all of Sarawak have reported cases of dogs and cats with rabies with the exception of Limbang, which is still rabies free.
He reminded that rabies infection among humans can be prevented when animals are vaccinated against rabies.
“Make sure your pet receives rabies vaccination every year to protect them from rabies infection and avoid adopting or raising a dog whose health status is unknown,” he advised.
He also called on the public to follow instruction from authorities in the implementation of the Rabies Control and Prevention Programme to ensure that prevention and control measures for rabies virus infection are carried out n the best interests for the people of Sarawak.