KUCHING: Health authorities have vaccinated pets from five villages in Serian near here, while residents helped to round up stray dogs after two young children died of rabies.
The scene at the villages was calm following swift action by the authorities to contain the spread of the disease.
Villagers went about their daily routine throughout the vaccination exercise, which began on Tuesday and is expected to be completed within a week.
The state has declared Kampung Krait, Kampung Paon Rimu, Kampung Paon Rimu Bakung, Kampung Remun and Kampung Lebor as rabies-infected areas under Section 37 of the Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999.
Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said, however, there was no need to declare an emergency as the rabies outbreak was confined to one district.
“If it is throughout the state then an emergency would be declared. This is only in Serian,” he said after presenting offer letters to participants of the Prime Minister’s special haj programme here yesterday.
Under the vaccination exercise, all household dogs and cats within a 10km radius of the areas under observation must be vaccinated.
The victims, a six-year-old girl and her four-year-old brother, succumbed to the disease on Tuesday.
A total of 68 people were bitten by dogs at the five villages between April and July 1, with no new incidents reported since then.
“We hope the swift action by the relevant agencies is able to contain the outbreak,” Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas told reporters yesterday during his visit to monitor the progress of the vaccination.
“We have received advice from Putrajaya on how to handle the situation, based on previous outbreaks in Kedah, Perlis and Penang.”
Uggah, who is also State Disaster Management Committee chairman, said about 6,000 doses of vaccine would be administered to pets and strays during the operation.
A second batch, for the 1,200 residents of the affected villages, is expected to arrive soon.
“Cooperation from the community is important. Please report any dog bites to the hospital immediately. The veterinary department must also be told,” Uggah advised.
After visiting the victims’ family, the Deputy Chief Minister said: “The government will give assistance to them and we will also propose to the chief minister to provide the family with a new home.”
This was because their house was in poor condition, he said, adding that the children’s father, Mazlan Pujan, 36, was looking for a permanent job.