On 7 August, there are no new reported cases of rabies infection in Sarawak, affirmed Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam. This was following the latest report received from the Sarawak Veterinary Services Department which conducted checks on dogs in Kuching and Serian divisions.

However, the country can only be declared rabies-free from the outbreak provided that no humans and animals are reported positive for rabies infection within a period of two years.

After two years, only can we “declare it as rabies-free. As such, the status of the disease will continue to be monitored,” he asserted.

The last fatal infection was on 23 July, involving a 52-year-old man. Four others died between 4 and 17 July, all children.

111 new dog bite cases reported in Sarawak; dog vaccination programme to be held

The Sarawak Health Department has also reported a total of 111 new dog bite cases in the state – 34 cases in Serian Division, 26 to Sri Aman Division, 19 in the Kuching Division, and 32 in the Division.

This brings the total number of dog bite cases since 1 April until 7 August to 1,651 – according to the Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee Secretariat.

Until 7 August, the cumulative number of people who have received the anti-rabies vaccination was 834; while 160 awareness campaigns – attended by 31,615 people – have been carried out in villages and schools.

The Sarawak Veterinary Services Department will also hold a large-scale dog vaccination programme in Serian District. The public has also been urged to seek medical attention if they have been bitten by dogs since 1 April.

Perak declared as “rabies-controlled”

State Health Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon says the state government has declared the Matang sub-district a ‘rabies-controlled area’. Photo credit: Marcus Pheong
State Health Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon says the state government has declared the Matang sub-district a ‘rabies-controlled area’. Photo credit: Marcus Pheong

Meanwhile in Perak, the government has also declared the Matang sub-district as a “rabies-controlled area” on 8 August.

State Health Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said the statement was made after 43 samples were tested negative for rabies infection.

“Many would wonder why we have not de-gazetted the area, but we are following international standards when it comes to disease control or prevention.

“It takes about two years to de-gazette a place. Declaring it a rabies-controlled area is a start,” explained Dr Mah.

Perak declared emergency when two sisters on 4 July, from Kuala Sepetang, were bitten by their rabid pet dog. The dog has since been put down and the girls have been vaccinated.

Dr Mah has also urged the public to continue taking precautions to ensure an outbreak does not occur.

Singapore’s AVA contributes 25,000 rabies vaccines to aid Malaysia eradicate rabies

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has also contributed 25,000 doses of rabies vaccine to help Malaysia fight the outbreaks in Sarawak and Perak. This is in line with precautionary measures to prevent the spread of rabies to Singapore.

“Rabies like any other diseases knowns no boundaries. It is important that we collaborate closely with our neighbours in the fight against such diseases,” echoed AVA’s director-general Yap Him Hoo. “We have strong co-operation with our Malaysian counterparts, and we are glad to play a part to support Malaysia in their rabies eradication efforts.”

Singapore has been rabies-free for more than 60 years; but the disease remains a constant threat as it is endemic in the region, he added.

The AVA has also issued an advisory to stakeholders such as vets, pet shops, pet farms, animal welfare groups, coastal fish farms and fishing vessels, advising them to be vigilant against rabies. Any suspected animal smuggling cases are also urged to be reported to the AVA. MIMS

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