By S. Harrish
SARAWAK recorded its fourth rabies death this year after a 34-year-old woman succumbed to the virus infection last Sunday in Sibu.
The Health Ministry said it was the 26th fatality in Sarawak since the rabies epidemic was declared in the state on July 31, 2017.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement that the latest victim was admitted to the Sibu Hospital on Oct 12 after she experienced weakness in her legs for five days.
“The patient died on Oct 18 and a lab test by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak confirmed that she was infected with the rabies virus,” he said.
He said the victim was bitten by her pet dog at the end of 2018 but did not seek treatment for it.
“Investigations found that the area where the victim stayed is located near a waste disposal site where many stray dogs roam.
“Her pet dog was free to mix with other animals and was not given the anti-rabies injection.
“This dog was killed by the public after it bit another individual.”
He said no samples were sent to the Sarawak Veterinary Services Department for tests to confirm if the dog was infected by rabies.
The Sibu Divisional Health Office has also informed the relevant authorities to catch stray dogs in the area.
Dr Noor Hisham advised the public to take preventive measures to avoid being infected by rabies, including cleaning the area where they were bitten with running water and soap for 15 minutes to remove the effects of saliva.
“Get immediate treatment from a nearby clinic or hospital if you have been bitten by aggressive pets or stray dogs,” he advised.