Two rabies-infected children have died in Sarawak

KUCHING, 4 July 2017: 

Two of the three rabies-infected children in Sarawak died today, said Sarawak Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian.

He said the six-year-old girl and four-year-old boy, both siblings, from Kampung Paon, Sungai Rimu, Serian, died at 1.43pm and 1.46pm respectively at the Sarawak General Hospital here.

“They were diagnosed to be brain dead and the parents agreed for the life support to be withdrawn,” said Dr Sim, who is also the minister holding a watching brief for the Sarawak Health Department.

He said the third victim, a seven-year-old girl, was still ventilated and categorised as critically ill.

Dr Sim also said 11 health teams continued to engage in the detection of rabies cases in the affected areas in Serian.

As of today, they had visited 19 villages and covered 2,098 doors/houses and checked 6,094 people, he said.

These active case detection (ACD) teams were also carrying out health education related to rabies and preventive measures for the residents of these villages, he added.

Sim said that from April 1 to July 4 this year, the cumulative number of dog bite cases detected in the outbreak area of Serian district stood at 68.

The Sarawak government has declared five villages in the Serian District as rabies-infected and issued an order for all household dogs within a 10km radius to be vaccinated against the disease.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas named the villages affected as Kampung Kerait, Kampung Paon Rimu, Kampung Paun Rimu Bakung, Kampung Remun and Kampung Lebor.

He also said that vaccination teams were sent to ‘ground zero’ in the infected zone today and they would fan out to the other areas.

“To ensure the success of this vaccination operation, we seek the full cooperation of all household dog owners to have their dogs vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Uggah after chairing a meeting of the State Disaster Management Committee, of which he is the chairman, at his office here today.

Three children in the Serian District were infected by rabies, as was notified by the Sarawak General Hospital here on June 22.

Uggah said the authorities had yet to determine the exact cause of the outbreak, and that the Veterinary Services Department was looking into the matter.

He also said that an area of 10km radius was designated because the movement of a rabid dog would be restricted and it would usually live for only three to nine days.

Uggah advised the people in the designated area to be wary of bites by their pet dogs or cats and to seek immediate treatment if they suffered from signs of infection.

Early symptoms can include fever and tingling at the wound site. Later signs may include headache, nausea, vomiting, agitation, anxiety, confusion and hyperactivity.

Uggah said collaboration had been established among the Health Department, Veterinary Services Department, police, military, local authorities, district offices, veterinary clinics, Sarawak Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and various state and federal government agencies to combat the disease.

The Veterinary Department has sent 6,000 doses of the rabies vaccine to Sarawak since yesterday to contain the spread of the mad dog disease.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the the vaccine would be given to dogs and cats which had not been infected with rabies. “We have a  vaccine stock of up to 20,000 and 30,000 doses.”

He said the ministry had sent four veterinary officers to assist the Sarawak Veterinary Department with measures to contain the spread of the disease, including providing anti-Rabies vaccination to dogs and cats within a one kilometre radius of the two villages affected by the disease.

– Bernama

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