KLANG: The Malaysian authorities must ensure that at least 70% to 80% of all dogs and cats in the country are vaccinated against the deadly rabies.
Former Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) head of disease control Datuk Dr P. Loganathan said the vaccination exercise must include street dogs and cats.
"We have to keep our house in order first and not worry too much about external forces and invasion of dogs from neighbouring countries," said Dr Loganathan when contacted Friday.
He said once this has been achieved, Malaysia will be a rabies-free country, as the animals are protected from the deadly disease.
Dr Loganathan said an annual census must be done to determine the number of vaccinated pets and street animals in the country.
This, he added, would serve as a platform for the proper surveillance of animals to keep rabies at bay.
Dr Loganathan, however, said it may be a difficult task for the DVS which has a much smaller workforce now.
He suggested that the DVS subcontract the task to selected animal welfare non-governmental organisations, a move which is being practised in many developed countries.
"DVS can do the coordination and the selected NGOs must send documented proof of every dog and cat they catch or rescue to vaccinate,'' he added.
He said the NGOs must also give the DVS monthly reports and this will ensure the rabies surveillance in the country is in order.
DVS Animal Welfare Advisory Committee member Edward Lim welcomed the suggestion, adding that the NGOs would willingly help out.
"If there is a rabies outbreak, it becomes everyone's problem.
"So, it is only fair that we do our part,'' said Lim, who is also Paws Animal Welfare Society kennel manager.
Rabies has once again reared its ugly head in Serian, Sarawak, and Kuala Sepetang, Perak.
The previous outbreak was detected in Penang, Kedah and Perlis in 2015.
It is believed the infection was brought into Sarawak by dogs from neighbouring Kalimantan, Indonesia, while the Kuala Sepetang infection is said to have been transmitted by dogs belonging to foreign fishing vessels that had docked at the jetty there to deliver seafood.
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