Rabies: 19 deaths, one critical

KUCHING: A 46-year-old man in Padawan died on Aug 7 at 2.51am due to rabies, bringing the number of total deaths to 19 since the outbreak in July 2017.

The latest case was confirmed two days after the clinical samples were obtained from the Institute for Medical Research on Aug 9, said Health director general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The man is the state’s 20th rabies case recorded since the outbreak. Of the 20 cases, 19 individuals succumbed to the disease while the sole surviving victim is in critical condition.

“Four cases reportedly took place this year, with the fourth case involving infection from a dog that was adopted as pet without any knowledge of its vaccination record,” he said in a statement issued yesterday.

Of the latest death, Noor Hisham pointed out that the man died while receiving treatment at Sarawak General Hospital since Aug 3.

He said the victim had been placed at the isolation ward with advance symptoms of the virus such as hydrophobia and aerophobia.

He noted that the deceased was bitten on the back of his right palm on June 15 when he tried to catch his pet dog inside his house compound.

He further said on that very day, the man’s eight-year-old daughter was also bitten by the same dog that the family had adopted in Kuching at the end of last May.

He added that the father and daughter had cleansed their wounds under running water for 15 minutes.

“On June 17, he brought his daughter to a clinic and was referred to the SGH’s Post Bite Clinic (PBC). His daughter received her first dose of rabies vaccination the following day at PBC.

“However, throughout their visits at the PBC for follow-ups, the deceased remain mum as to his condition and did not inform the medical staff that he was also bitten by the same dog,” he pointed out.

On July 29, the man started to suffer from headache and muscle pain to his right shoulder and sought treatment at two different clinics on July 31 and Aug 2, again refusing to inform the cause of his symptoms to the medical staff.

When his condition worsened on Aug 3, he finally admitted to a medical staff of the incident. He succumbed to the virus at 2.51am on Aug 7.

The ministry is strongly advising the public to not foster or adopt any pet without knowledge of the animal’s past vaccination records.

“Those bitten by animals are advised to wash their wounds under running water for 15 minutes before seeking immediate treatment at a government clinic or hospital.”

He also advised the public to always avoid getting bitten by dogs or wild animals as most areas in Sarawak are rabies-positive.

The risk of rabies infection due to bites from dogs and other animals in Sarawak is high as the state Veterinary Services Department has previously reported that 40 percent of the estimated 1,000 dogs in the state have been tested positive.

“Family members are also urged to notify their doctor or health practitioner if any of their family members is bitten by a dog, to ensure proper treatment is available immediately.”

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