Senior citizen succumbs to rabies in Sibu

KUCHING: A 60-year-old man from Sibu is the latest victim of rabies in Sarawak, bringing the total number of cases to 14 this year.

State Health Department director Dr Ooi Choo Huck said the man died at 11.41am on Monday (Dec 5) in Sibu Hospital and a laboratory test confirmed that he had rabies encephalitis.

He said the victim was reported to have experienced symptoms of rabies infection starting Nov 26.

"He sought treatment at a clinic on Dec 1 when his symptoms grew worse, including difficulty swallowing, and was referred to Sibu Hospital for further treatment," Dr Ooi said in a statement on Wednesday (Dec 7).

He said the victim was not bitten or scratched by a dog but had handled dog carcasses in October.

However, he said the rabies status of the animals could not be determined.

This is the 11th rabies death reported in Sarawak as of Dec 6 this year.

As rabies is currently endemic in Sarawak, Dr Ooi reminded dog owners to ensure that their pets are vaccinated annually against rabies and to immediately report to the Veterinary Services Department if their dogs turn aggressive or lethargic.

He also urged the public not to handle stray dogs or cats but to report them to the Veterinary Services Department for further investigation.

In addition, he said the Health Department will continue to ensure that dog bite treatment and anti-rabies vaccination are easily accessible to affected individuals.

A total of 26 government health facilities across Sarawak currently offer these services.

"We are making efforts to increase the number of health facilities that can treat and vaccinate animal bite cases, especially in high-risk areas," he said.

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