Director-General of Health, Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah in a press release today announced that there was a rabies case among newly diagnosed humans.
According to the statement, it is the first reported case regarding the case of rabies this year and the 23rd case of Sarawak rabies outbreak since July 31, 2017. The last case rabies reported in Sarawak was on November 8, 2019.
The case is a five-year-old Malaysian girl living in Bandar Sibu, Sarawak. She was attacked and bitten by a stray dog on March 9, 2020, at the face, mouth, and eyelids. However, the bite was not washed with clean water and soap immediately after the incident. After that, she was taken to Sibu Hospital for treatment on the same day.
She had received an anti-tetanus vaccine, Rabies Immunoglobulin (RIG) and two (2) dose of the anti-rabies vaccine while being treated at Sibu hospital. On March 13, 2020, she was discharged in good health. The third dose of anti-rabies vaccine was taken on March 16, 2020.
On March 24, 2020, she was taken to treatment at a Community Clinic in Sibu City for fever and then to Sibu Hospital on March 25, 2020, due to throat pain and difficulty swallowing and hallucinating. She was admitted to the ward for further treatment. Her condition became worst and she was confirmed dead to the next day. The cause of death is rabies encephalitis.
Samples from her were taken on March 26, 2020, and confirmed rabies by Medical Laboratory, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) on March 29,2020. The stray dog was reported to have died on March 10, 2020, but no samples were taken.
MOH would like to advise the public to take the following precautions to prevent rabies:
- Rinse any part of the body that is bitten by the dogs or other animals with running water and soap for 15 minutes to eliminating saliva.
- Immediately get treatment at a nearby health clinic or hospital if bitten by an aggressive pet or wild animals.
- Make sure your dog has received anti-rabies shots at the nearest veterinary clinic and avoid mixing them with dogs or wild animals.
- If a dog or cat is found aggressively including aggression, seek immediate treatment at a veterinarian and report to the nearest Veterinary Services Department
- Report to the Local Authority if wild dogs are roaming the area.
- Always maintain a high level of personal hygiene such as washing your hands properly with water and soap after touching your pet.
MOH and JKN Sarawak are committed and will enhance cooperation with the State Government of Sarawak, the Department of Veterinary Services and other agencies to ensure the prevention and control of rabies virus infection is fully implemented.