KUCHING: Two of the three young rabies victims in Sarawak have succumbed to the disease.
A six-year-old girl and her four-year-old brother from Kampung Paon, Sungai Rimu in Serian, were pronounced dead at 1.43pm and 1.46pm respectively yesterday, said Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian.
“They were diagnosed as brain dead and the parents agreed to withdraw their life support,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Sim said the third victim, a seven-year-old girl from Kampung Lebur, Gedong, remained in critical condition.
He said 11 health teams continued to carry out case detection in the affected areas in Serian.
As of yesterday, 19 villages have been visited and 6,094 people checked while the cumulative number of dog bite cases detected in the outbreak area since April 1 now stands at 68.
“The state Health Department is advising everyone, especially residents in Serian district, to take precautions to avoid getting infected with rabies.
“Stay away from wild animals to decrease the risk of getting bitten. If you are bitten by a dog, make sure the wound is washed thoroughly with plenty of water and soap immediately and go to the clinic or hospital as soon as possible for further management,” Dr Sim added.
Meanwhile, veterinary teams are carrying out anti-rabies vaccination on dogs at five villages in the Serian district.
They will also vaccinate any other dogs within a 10km radius of the villages, which have been declared infected areas by the Sarawak government.
These are Kampung Krait, Kampung Paon Rimu, Kampung Paon Sungai Rimu Bakung, Kampung Remun and Kampung Lebor.
“We seek the cooperation of all dog owners and we urge them to have their dogs vaccinated as soon as possible to help contain this outbreak in the shortest possible time,” said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah.
“In the meantime, we are tightening the borders. We are now deploying the police and army to stop any transfer of dogs or cats from Kalimantan (Indonesia),” he said after chairing a state disaster management committee meeting yesterday.
He added that rabies-infected dogs usually die within three to nine days.
State health director Dr Jamilah Hashim said 10 teams are going house to house to check for any dog-bite victims since April 1.
“Not all of them are considered suspects (for rabies). All the cases will be reviewed by experts who will look at the severity of the bites, ranging from no wound, a scratch to an open wound.
“They will also ask whether the victims were bitten by a household dog or a stray.
“Based on these factors, the experts will identify which cases need to be given post-exposure treatment,” she added.
At Kampung Paon Sungai Rimu Bakung, about 80km from here, villagers brought their dogs to be vaccinated. Some dogs which showed signs of rabies were put down.
For inquiries about rabies, the public can call the state Health Department’s hotline at 082-443 248 or 441 780.