Rabies toll rises to 19 after another death in Sarawak

A dog owner having her pet vaccinated in Kuching following the rabies outbreak. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: A 61-year-old woman from Pending succumbed to rabies yesterday, bringing the death toll to 19 since the outbreak of the disease in 2017.

The health ministry said in a statement today the woman was confirmed to have rabies after a laboratory test by the Institute for Medical Research (IMR).

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the victim was reported to have been bitten by a stray dog in April.

“She washed the wounds for five minutes and went to the community clinic for treatment. However, she did not go for a follow-up treatment as she assumed that the wound on her right thumb was healed,” Noor Hisham said in a statement today.

He said the woman fell ill on June 6 and was admitted at the Sarawak General Hospital two days later.

“The next day, she complained of drowsiness, headaches, difficulties in swallowing, discomfort on her right arm and weakness below her body,” he said.

Noor Hisham said 18 deaths had been reported from July 1, 2017 to June 12 this year.

Three of the deaths were reported this year.

He said the Sarawak health department had issued a reminder to all medical practitioners that cases of individuals being bitten by animals including dogs be treated according to the guidelines.

He also urged those bitten by animals including dogs to wash their wounds for 15 minutes under running water and seek immediate treatment at the government clinic or a hospital nearby.