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Rabies: The threat still continues

KUCHING: On 30th December 2017, a 54-year-old man staying at 11th Mile, Jalan Kuching-Serian, Padawan, was bitten by his pet dog that he picked up from the streets not long ago, said a press statement from the Sarawak Health Department yesterday.

As he was walking past his dog to get into the car, he was bitten on his leg without any warning. It was an unprovoked bite. However, the dog was also noted to be weak with poor appetite several days prior to the bite.

Public members are advised not to adopt or bring home any free-roaming dogs of unknown status, especially from areas which are affected with rabies. Any person who wishes to own a pet dog is advised to adopt from SSPCA or relevant agencies, whereby the vaccination status of the dog is known and up-to-date, the statement added.

During a gathering at Taman Dahlia, Matang, for New Year Eve of 2018, two persons were bitten by a free-roaming dog, sustaining deep wound at their upper arms. One of them were bitten while trying to shoo the dog away by sprinkling water at it, while another person was bitten while helping her from being attacked by the dog.

After biting these two victims, the dog ran across the road and bit another two youngsters. One of them was bitten on the abdomen while another sustained multiple wound on his limbs, as well as scratches on his face and forehead. The involved dog was unowned and described as a tame dog that wandered nearby without disturbing the public.

People are therefore advised not to handle or provoke any free-roaming dogs, but to inform the Department of Veterinary Services or Local Councils for further actions. In a separate incident, a 21-yearold man from Putera Park, Jalan Batu Kawa, Tondong, was bitten by a freeroaming stray dog that he had been feeding for the past three years.

On 4th Jan 2018, the dog suddenly turned aggressive, and went into his house as the gate was opened and bit one of the puppies till death. He chased the dog away. Three weeks later, the same dog dashed into his house again when he opened the gate, and bit another puppy. The gentleman tried chasing the dog out of his house and scaring the dog by holding a stone in his hand.

The dog did not back off but dashed at him instead and bit his right hand leaving a deep wound. The dog at that time was described as drooling with blood-stained saliva, and having episodic jerky movements suggestive of fits. Several weeks prior to this incident at Jalan Belatok, Matang, a 70-yearold lady was also bitten by a dog which ran into her house while she was gardening, as her front gate was left open.

The dog belongs to her friend staying several houses away, and the bites were totally unprovoked. Therefore, public are advised to always keep their gates closed to prevent dogs from entering their houses that could cause unnecessary harm which might carry risk of rabies.

Public are also discouraged from feeding free-roaming dogs, in view of the risk of bite and unknown vaccination status of the dog. They are strongly advised to take extra precaution when walking on the streets or being outside the house compound. This includes avoidance of standing or walking near a dog that is unleashed. Rabies infected dogs may bite the victims without any provocation.

This happened when a 39-year-old lady was bitten in front of a shop house at MJC, Batu Kawa recently. She was suddenly attacked by the dog while standing near it. The dog was known to be roaming around in the neighbourhood and was totally unprovoked when the incident occurred.

From 1st July 2017 to 11th January 2018, a total of 7,933 bite cases were recorded state wide. Areas at high risk of rabies include Batu Kawa / Stephen Yong / Batu Kawa-Matang area and Matang/ Gita area, with 247 and 203 cases of dog bites were reported for the same period of time, respectively.

However, with the increasing number of new areas found to have positive rabies infected dogs, including Jalan Sim Kheng Hong Selatan, Batu 10 Jalan Kuching-Serian, Rantau Panjang, Tondong Bazaar, and even areas up to the Sarikei, as reported by the Secretariat of Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, it is believed the risk of rabies has spread widely, and prevention of dog bites should be emphasized throughout Sarawak especially from Kuching until Sarikei. People are advised to take extra precaution in preventing themselves from being bitten, especially when they are outside of a gated house compound.

Free roaming dogs, whether owned or unowned are very dangerous and may carry the risk of rabies infection. Avoid standing near or walk over any free-roaming dogs even when the dogs appear sleeping, and do not feed or handle them. Any close contacts with free-roaming dogs may carry risk of bites.

NO BITE, NO RABIES. If bitten, wash the wound immediately with soap and running tap water for at least 15 minutes and seek further treatment at the nearest clinic or hospital, concluded the department’s press release yesterday.

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