Vaccinate pets and seek treatment for dog bites, says assemblyman

MIRI: There are signs that rabies will be a lingering and constant threat in Sarawak, says Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting.

He said this after learning of yet another dog bite victim’s death.

“Rabies is an ongoing threat in the community – when there are no incidents of human infection, it seems as if there is nothing to worry about, but once there is an outbreak, there is no turning back,” said Ting.

“I urge people to be cautious and vaccinate pet dogs for the safety of everyone in the community.

“More importantly, when there are dog bites, immediately clean the wound and seek medical treatment so as not to miss the golden window for effective treatment,” he added.

He urged victims not to hide the bite from family members and not to try treating the wound themselves.

The latest death of a 21-year-old man from rabies has brought the death toll to 13 in Sarawak.

It was reported that the victim treated the wound himself and did not seek further medical treatment until the disease progressed.

Ting said since Sarawak was declared rabies infected on June 30 last year, a total of 14 victims have been infected, 13 of whom have since succumbed to the disease while one victim is under observation and recuperating at home.

“A total of 54 areas in Sarawak have been declared rabies infected as of Nov 25, covering 11 districts with the exception of Limbang,” said Ting.

Ting said 99% of human infection occurs through pet dogs.

“Rabies can infect pets and wild animals and be transmitted to humans via scratches and bites, usually when there is a transfer of fluid,” he said.

He added that the rabies virus incubates for an average of two to three months and some cases manifest as short as one week while some take as long as one year.

“This depends on the site of infection and the amount of virus present when infected.

“The initial symptoms of rabies are fever, often painful, abnormal or unexplained tremors, tingling or burning at the bite site.

“As the virus spreads to the central nervous system, it develops into a lethal brain and spinal cord inflammation, which leads to death and death is highly likely once symptoms appear,” he said.