Sunday, November 17

Death of 5-year-old boy confirmed as 21st rabies fatality in Sarawak

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A veterinarian prepares a dosage of rabies vaccine. Reuters File Photo

KUCHING: The Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed that the death of a five-year-old boy from Kampung Mambong, Jalan Penrissen on Nov 2 was due to rabies encephalitis.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the deceased succumbed to the virus at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) while receiving care at the intensive care unit.

The cause of death was confirmed after tests from the Institute for Medical Research returned with positive results.

“The deceased became less active on Oct 13 and complained of a sore throat. On Oct 15, he developed a fever and was out of his usual character,” said Noor Hisham in a statement today.

He added that the deceased was first taken to a private clinic for a medical check-up on Oct 15 and three days later (Oct 18) to a government clinic (Klinik Kesihatan) where he was diagnosed with Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI).

The deceased’s heath further deteriorated and he was brought to SGH on Oct 21 where he succumbed to the virus on Nov 2.

It was also revealed that the family has two unvaccinated pet dogs which were left free to roam with other stray dogs.

However, both dogs are still alive and are presumably still uninfected by the rabies virus.

“The deceased also never complained that he was ever bitten by a dog or any animal,” said Noor Hisham.

With the confirmation of this case, the rabies virus in Sarawak since July 1, 2017 has taken 21 lives involving a total of 22 cases. Six of these cases took place in 2019.