KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — The Health Ministry today confirmed a man, 62, from Sibu, Sarawak died on Tuesday (June 23) due to rabies, making this the second reported case in the state this year.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this brings the cumulative number of rabies cases in the state to 24, including 23 deaths, since the rabies epidemic was declared on July 1, 2017.
Dr Noor Hisham said the victim who was bitten by a dog to a relative when he visited the relative’s home in Jalan Sentosa Barat, Sibu on May 12 had cleaned the wound with soap and water for 15 minutes and received treatment at a health facility.
“However, he did not go back to the facility to get the anti-rabies vaccine injection.
“On June 16, he started to feel weakness in his leg and suffered constipation. On June 19, he was referred to the Sibu Hospital for further treatment and was warded the same day. The patient died at 7 p.m. on June 23, while under intensive specialist care at the hospital, and the cause of death was rabies,” he said in a statement.
Dr Noor Hisham said the rabies infection was confirmed by a laboratory test conducted by the Institute of Medical Research yesterday (June 25).
He advised the public, especially people in Sarawak, to always take preventive measures to avoid being infected by rabies, including cleaning the body parts which had been bitten by a dog or other animals with running water and soap for 15 minutes to remove the effects of saliva and to get immediate treatment if unexpectedly bitten by a pet or wild dog.
“Ensure that pets are given the anti-rabies injection at the veterinary clinic and do not let the pet mix with wild animals before and after getting the vaccine.
“Family members are also urged to inform the doctor or health authorities if a relative has been bitten by an animal, especially a dog or cat, to ensure he gets the necessary medical treatment,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham also urged the public to obey the instructions of the authorities so that Sarawak can be rabies-free.
For the record, the first rabies case reported this year when a five-year-old girl died in Sibu on march 26.