KUCHING: A 26-year-old man from Kuching who has been warded after suffering breathing difficulties could be the latest rabies case in Sarawak.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the man, who is being treated at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here, was given two dogs by a social media acquaintance in March.
He said it was not known if the dogs were vaccinated against rabies.
"He was scratched by the dogs while playing with them and did not seek treatment.
"In the middle of March, both dogs died after showing symptoms of hypersalivation, unsteady gait and hydrophobia," Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement Thursday (May 30).
On May 26, the victim became weak and suffered difficulty in breathing.
He was brought to a private hospital the following day when his symptoms grew worse.
On Wednesday (May 29), he was referred to SGH and found to be experiencing confusion, hydrophobia, difficulty in swallowing and muscle weakness.
"He is undergoing treatment and close monitoring at the hospital. A clinical sample will be sent to the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) for a rabies test," Dr Noor Hisham said.
Sarawak has recorded 17 rabies cases, including 16 deaths, since an outbreak was declared on July 1, 2017. The latest death occurred on Jan 18 this year.
Dr Noor Hisham advised the public not to take in dogs whose vaccination status was unknown.
"Make sure pet dogs are vaccinated against rabies and don't let them stray or mix with wild animals.
"If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and running water for at least 15 minutes and seek treatment at the nearest government clinic or hospital," he said.
He also reminded dog owners to notify the Veterinary Services Department if their pets fell sick, showed unusual behaviour or died suddenly.
"Public cooperation is vital for rabies control and prevention measures in Sarawak to succeed," he said.