Over 200k dogs vaccinated since rabies outbreak in 2017

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KUCHING: The Department of Veterinary Services Sarawak (DVSS) has vaccinated a total of 8,210 dogs against rabies up to Sept 22 this year.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said that the cumulative number of dogs vaccinated since the rabies outbreak in 2017 until this year totalled over 200,000.

“The estimated dog population in Sarawak is 250,000, and it is estimated that there are 300 dog bite cases a month,” he said at the World Rabies Day 2021 Sarawak hybrid virtual event held at Tegas Digital Innovation Hub yesterday (Oct 2).

Uggah’s text of speech was read by Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian at the event.

He added that as of now there were a total of 72 localities that have been declared as rabies-infected areas in the state.

Since the rabies outbreak in Sarawak, there were 35 cases of human infection with 33 deaths. Six cases were reported in 2017, 2018 (10), 2019 (six), 2020 (nine) while four cases were reported this year.

Meanwhile, Department of Veterinary Services Sarawak (DVSS) director Dr Adrian Susin Ambud said the department did not carry out mass vaccination, licensing and microchipping for dogs this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, he said, various activities were conducted in the effort to combat rabies in the state.

“This includes virtual run, social media campaign, poster competition, and promoting our brand-new Rabies App in Malaysia and hopefully one day equivalent to the MySejahtera App,” he said.

He added that in line with this year’s World Rabies Day theme ‘Rabies: Facts, not Fear’, it was important to raise awareness among the public that rabies is 99 percent fatal but yet it is 100 percent preventable disease.

“In Sarawak, 80 percent of the dog bite cases involved dog owners, who had let their dogs roam free and not vaccinated.

“Fifty percent of the dog bite cases tested positive for rabies, with the victim treated, vaccinated and surviving,” he said.

He reminded pet owners to bring their dogs for vaccination against rabies if they had not done so.

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