KUCHING: The death of a 64-year-old man in Mukah due to rabies could have been avoided had the victim sought treatment for the dog bite, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
He called on Sarawakians to seek immediate treatment if they should be bitten by dogs or other animals.
Uggah said he was sad to note that despite similar advice being published in newspapers, radio and social media, people are still dying of rabies due to their indifference.
He pointed out that according to records provided by the Ministry of Health, dog and cat bite cases, including those that were pets, were still high in Sarawak, averaging from 40 to 60 cases daily.
“I repeat: the instant after being bitten, the victim must wash the bite wound with soap and running water for at least 10 to 15 minutes.
“Then he or she should seek treatment at once. This is very important; whether the wound is serious or otherwise. We have cases in the past where those who sought treatment at the clinics were healed.
“We have the facilities to treat this,” he said.
Uggah, who is also Sarawak Disaster Management Committee chairman, was commenting on the 20th rabies fatality reported on Oct 9.
It was revealed by Ministry of Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on Wednesday that the man passed away at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Bintulu Hospital on Aug 19.
“He was bitten by a dog which was given by his relative in Kanowit,” he said in a statement yesterday.
According to Uggah, information received from the State Veterinary Office in Mukah mentioned that the victim was bitten on May 21 this year by one of the two dogs he had adopted from a relative in Semuyan, Sibu.
He also said that based on report, the victim had beaten the dog which bit him.
It died two days later, and its carcass was thrown into the river.
“The report said he was bitten when feeding them. Although he was advised to seek treatment for the bite wound, he refused, saying it was not serious.
“It was only on Aug 6 that he sought treatment at Bintulu Hospital. He died on Aug 19 in its Intensive Care Unit,” said Uggah.
The latest case brings the total number of reported rabies fatality cases to 20 since the rabies outbreak was declared in Sarawak in July 2017.
A nine-year-old who suffered severe neurological damage and is currently on life support has so far survived the virus.