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MoH: New case of rabies recorded in Sarawak, fifth this year

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Dr Noor Hisham advised the public to seek immediate treatment at the nearest health clinic or hospital if bitten by their pets or wild animals. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Dr Noor Hisham advised the public to seek immediate treatment at the nearest health clinic or hospital if bitten by their pets or wild animals. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Another case of rabies has emerged in Sarawak, making it the fifth case among humans in the state for this year.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) said this is also the 27th rabies case overall since the epidemic was declared in Sarawak on July 31, 2017.

Its director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the case involves a 42-year old man who was first warded at theo Sarawak General Hospital on October 15 for bodily weakness and inability to walk.

“He also experienced sleeping difficulties due to hallucinations, loss of appetite, and difficulty in drinking before being warded,” he said in a statement.

The victim eventually passed away in the early hours of October 20, after being diagnosed with rabies encephalitis.

“Investigations have revealed there was no history of dog or any other animal bites.

“The victim kept seven cats, five of which have been vaccinated against rabies by the state Veterinary Services Department, the day after the case began to display symptoms,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

All the cats were deemed healthy, with no changes in their behaviour. The victim’s family also informed the authorities that no animals within their vicinity had fallen ill or died in the past six months.

“Although this case was not connected to a history of dog or animal bites, in general, it is known that rabies infection is caused by the bites of animals infected with the rabies virus,” he said, adding the victim’s infection was confirmed by the Medical Research Institute’s lab tests, which came out on the same day he died.

Dr Noor Hisham advised the public to seek immediate treatment at the nearest health clinic or hospital if bitten by their pets or wild animals.

“Sarawak is still not free from rabies. If bitten, wash the affected part of the body with flowing water and soap for at least 15 minutes to get rid of any traces of saliva.

“Similarly, ensure all your pets have received anti-rabies vaccination. The ministry, the Sarawak Health Department, and relevant agencies are committed to ensure the rabies virus is under control and prevented from further spreading,” he said.

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