Keep agencies in the loop on rabies

SMC personnel hunting for stray dogs in a residential area in bid to control rabies spread.

KUCHING: The Health Ministry is urged to disseminate first-hand information on rabies cases happening in Sarawak to local authorities and agencies in the state.

In making the call, a political secretary to chief minister, Micheal Tiang said information sharing on rabies must be made in a similar manner that information on Covid-19 is made available.

“In its effort to prevent the spread of rabies, the Ministry of Health should be quick to provide Sarawak authorities and the public with the latest updates on the disease — similar to Covid-19 which is transparent and always up-to-date,” he said.

He was commenting on the latest rabies casualty involving a sixteen-year-old girl last Saturday.

Tiang said he was shocked to find out the report on the casualty was only made known to the public ten days after the rabies victim had died at Sarawak General Hospital.

He said, with the lack of transparency, it had allowed rumours to circulate that rabies had spread in certain areas in Sibu.

“Such news has since caused public panic and unrest due to the delays or unavailability of the latest information on rabies for the public and the relevant authorities to grasp.

“It is critical that local authorities, public health department and veterinary enforcement obtain first-hand information on rabies cases in order to take immediate and necessary action in response to reported cases.

“If the information can be disseminated by the ministry to those relevant authorities fast and efficiently, I believe we not only can stop the spread of the disease quickly but also the rumours that cause unrest,” he said.

Tiang noted that the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) has been trying to catch stray dogs with its dog unit netting about 20 dogs a month while the private contractors were catching about 20 dogs a month.

“Despite this, there are still many stray dogs or unattended dogs roaming out there.

“I therefore urge dog owners not to abandon their dogs on streets, or allow their dogs to roam freely outside their house compound to prevent the spread of rabies,” he said.