Another man in Sarawak died of rabies, ringing alarm bells throughout the state. What happened?
The Health Ministry confirmed a 62-year-old man from Sibu, Sarawak, died on Tuesday (June 23) due to rabies, making it the second case reported in 2020.
The victim was allegedly bitten by his relative’s dog’s at Jalan Sentosa Barat on May 12 and cleaned his wound for 15 minutes with soap and water before receiving treatment at a health facility. He did not however, receive any anti-rabies vaccine injection after the incident.
On June 16, he felt weakness in his leg and suffered constipation. Three days after, he received further treatment and was warded at Sibu Hospital.
The patient died at 7pm on June 23 while under intensive specialist care at the hospital. The cause of death was confirmed as rabies. Why should we care?
The rabies epidemic in Sarawak was declared on July 2017 after the death of two children in Serian district. They were the first rabies death in Malaysia after almost two decades.
Rabies is a viral disease that is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. While these animals are usually wild or stray animals, most rabies came from dogs.
Rabies affects the nervous system and lead to diseases in the brain. While earlier symptoms may include nausea, fever or headache, without further treatment the virus will develop into severe complications which may result in death.
To date, there has been 24 cases, including 23 deaths in Sarawak. The first case reported in the state this year was of a five-year-old girl who died in Sibu on March 26.
While the Sarawak government is actively controlling the spread of the disease by vaccinating stray animals, it has also identified 64 affected areas in Kuching, Betong, Bintulu, Sibu, Mukah and Miri.
It is important for the public to take preventive measures against rabies such as seeking immediate medical treatment once bitten by an aggressive pet animal or stray dog. It is also crucial in ensuring that pets have received anti-rabies injection at the nearest veterinarian.