Integrated op to control Sarawak rabies outbreak

KUCHING: An integrated rabies ope­ration to vaccinate dogs and remove strays will be carried out in two districts next month as Sarawak steps up efforts to control the outbreak.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said the operation would involve some 450 personnel from various government agencies, following the declaration of the rabies as a level two disaster on Jan 11.

“This is a pilot project which covers Lundu and Bau districts on March 1 to 10. We have directed the district offices to engage the local population to make sure that they understand the operation.

“Our objectives are firstly to make sure that 100% of the dogs within these two areas are vaccinated. At the moment about 80% have already been vaccinated.

“Secondly, we want to remove the stray dogs,” he told a press conference after chairing a State Disaster Management Committee meeting here yesterday.

Uggah said raising the disaster management to level two enabled government agencies to consolidate and mobilise resources, including manpower, vehicles and funding.

Level two refers to a disaster which has occurred in more than one district in the state, with its management requiring coordination and consolidation of resources at state level with some assistance from the federal government.

The rabies outbreak has claimed 16 lives so far while a sole survivor remained in critical condition.

To date, 61 areas in all divisions except Limbang have been declared as rabies-infected.

Uggah said the pilot operation would be extended to other parts of the state if it was successfully implemented in Bau and Lundu.

“We hope this strategic and coordinated approach will be effective in reducing rabies incidence in Sarawak,” he said.

He also said about 122,000 dogs or 54% of the estimated 225,000 dogs in Sarawak were vaccinated.

“Our target is to vaccinate at least 70% of the dogs, which is the basic prerequisite to make Sarawak rabies-free,” he said.

He also said there were no new human cases since the latest fatality on Jan 18.

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