Toll rises to 20 after Sarawakian man dies of rabies

A pet owner brings her dog for vaccination in Kuching. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: The health ministry has confirmed the death of a 46-year-old man from rabies, bringing the toll to 20 in Sarawak since the outbreak began two years ago.

A laboratory test at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) confirmed that the man from Padawan had succumbed to rabies on Wednesday.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the man was believed to have been bitten by a puppy given by a friend from Kuching at the back of his right hand on June 15.

“It happened when he was trying to catch the dog which was found wandering outside his compound. His eight-year-old daughter was also bitten by the same dog on the same day,” he said.

He said the man and his daughter had cleansed their wounds under running water for 15 minutes.

The man then brought his daughter for treatment at the health clinic before she was referred to the Sarawak General Hospital, he said.

However, he did not inform the doctors that he had also been bitten.

“He started experiencing fever, headache and lethargy and sought treatment from two health clinics on July 31 and Aug 2 but did not inform health authorities about his dog bite history,” he said.

Noor Hisham said the man only informed health authorities of the dog bite after he was admitted at SGH when his condition worsened.

At that time, the man was already experiencing aggression, hydrophobia, aerophobia, fever, headache and weakness on his right hand.

“His daughter is in good health and is still under observation,” he said.

The ministry advised the public not to accept or take in any animal with unknown status of rabies vaccination.

Those bitten by animals were advised to wash their wounds under running water for 15 minutes before seeking immediate treatment at a government clinic or hospital.