KUCHING: Two new suspected rabies cases have been detected in Sarawak, including one who has died.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the first suspected case was a 64-year-old man from Kuching who was bitten by a dog in mid-September.
His wife was also bitten by the dog, which the couple had adopted a week earlier.
"The patient washed the bite wound, but did not seek treatment at a medical facility. On Nov 27, he went to a private clinic after suffering knee pain and weakness in his lower body, but he did not say that he was bitten by a dog," Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement on Sunday (Dec 9).
He said the man was admitted to the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) on Dec 2 when his condition worsened.
"He started showing symptoms of confusion and was transferred to the infectious diseases ward for further observation.
"His wife has not shown any symptoms and has started receiving anti-rabies vaccine," he said.
In the second suspected case, a 74-year-old man, also from Kuching, was sent to SGH on Nov 25, a day after getting treatment at a private clinic for pain in his left side.
He was admitted to the ICU on Nov 28 and passed away on Dec 7, with clinical rabies as the cause of death.
"Investigations found that the patient was not bitten by an animal. He had a dog and cat which were vaccinated against rabies this year.
"Both animals looked normal and did not show rabies symptoms," Dr Noor Hisham said.
He said both cases were still awaiting confirmation from lab tests. Clinical specimens have been sent to the Institute for Medical Research and are being processed.
There have been 14 confirmed cases of rabies in Sarawak, with 13 fatalities, since an outbreak was declared on June 30 last year.
As of Dec 7, the state government has declared 56 areas in all divisions except Limbang as rabies-infected.
Dr Noor Hisham called on Sarawakians to cooperate and comply with advice from the authorities to control and prevent the further spread of rabies in the state.
"Be more responsible by not leaving or abandoning your pets in public areas. Don't adopt stray dogs whose vaccination status is unknown.
"If you are bitten by a dog or wild animal, wash the wound with soap and running water for at least 15 minutes and seek immediate treatment at the nearest clinic or hospital," he said.