34-year-old woman dies of rabies

Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

KUCHING: A 34-year-old woman is the latest victim to rabies in Sarawak – the case this year and the 26th in the state since July 31, 2017.

Health director general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the victim was admitted to Sibu Hospital on Oct 12 due to weakness in both legs.

“The victim passed away on October 18, 2020 at 11.30am with a diagnosis of rabies encephalitis. She was confirmed to be infected with the rabies virus through a laboratory test conducted by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) on October 19 2020.

“The Ministry of Health Malaysia (MoH) extends its condolences to the family members of the deceased,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Dr Noor Hisham said investigations by MoH found that the victim’s residential area is close to a landfill where there were many stray dogs.

“She was once bitten by her pet dog at the end of 2018 but did not seek treatment at any health facility. The pet dog is free to mix with other animals and has never been given an anti-rabies vaccine.

“The animal was killed by civilians following another incident in which it bit another individual. However, no samples were sent to the Sarawak Veterinary Services Department for rabies infection testing,” he said.

He added, the Sibu Division Health Office informed the relevant authorities to catch the dogs in the deceased’s residence area.

“MoH and State Health Department are committed and will enhance cooperation with the state government, Department of Veterinary Services and other agencies to ensure comprehensive measures to prevent and control the rabies infection,” he said.