Worrying rabies outbreak

The latest announcement on the rabies outbreak that the fifth rabies victim from Serian has died at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) had been worrying not only for those in the infected areas, but other places as well.

The state government has taken various preventive measures to ensure the safety of its citizens but recent news about the shortage of vaccine has also been worrying despite assurances from the relevant authorities that they are doing their best.

As a further preventive measure, the government has ordered the Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Armed Forces to monitor the state’s border with Kalimantan, Indonesia with extra vigilance, as the possibility has been raised that rabies could have entered Sarawak from the neighbouring country.

Deputy CM Douglas Uggah said though there has been no confirmation the disease had spread from Indonesia, it is necessary to take extra precautions.

Sarawak and the Indonesia consulate-general here have also agreed to form a joint committee to tackle the spread of rabies from West Kalimantan into Sarawak.

The formation of the joint committee is very essential as it acts as a venue to exchange information on all contagious diseases from both sides of the border.

Aside from that, SUPP has also played a major role in the person of its President Dr Sim, who is a medical person and is very qualified, together with his official positions, to deal with this medical issue.

As a further preventive measure a number of areas in Sarawak are expected to be quarantined following the outbreak, especially in Serian. However, the quarantine would not involve entire districts as it may affect the socio-economic well-being of the people in the respective districts.

According to the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, the rabies outbreak in Serian district was still under control as authorities continue to trace and treat dog bite cases and vaccinate animals in the affected areas.

The committee said 26 new dog bite cases were detected from July 2 onwards, bringing the cumulative total since April 1 to 332, of which 235 have been treated.

Recent news report revealed that the Sarawak Veterinary Services Department has vaccinated 5,850 animals comprising 1,626 dogs, 4,199 cats and 25 other animals.

The department urged those whose pets have been vaccinated to confine the animals and observe their behaviour.  Parents have also been advised to ensure their children should not come into contact with stray dogs who may have been infected.