3 children infected with rabies in Sarawak

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KUALA LUMPUR: Three children, including two siblings, in Serian district, Sarawak, have been infected with rabies.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, in a statement today, said the health ministry received a report from the Sarawak Health Department after being notified by the Sarawak General Hospital on June 22.

He said the victims, aged four, six and seven, were initially thought to be suffering from viral encephalitis and showed symptoms of fever, abnormal behaviour and aggression at times, and were afraid of water.

He said the children were warded at the intensive unit where two were put on oxygen.

He said further investigation found that two of the victims were bitten by a dog about a month or two before the manifestation of the symptoms, while it could not be ascertained whether the third victim was ever bitten by a dog.

Noor Hisham said urine samples, saliva and skin biopsies of the victims that were sent to the Institute of Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur were tested positive for the rabies virus.

Following the incidents, the ministry has taken a number of control and prevention measures, including comprehensive investigation and carrying out active and passive identification as well as issuing alerts to all public and private health facilities in the localities of the district concerned, he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said an infected individual could potentially become paralysed and fall into a coma, and death if left untreated.