Following the report by The Star, the recent rabies outbreak that claimed the lives of two children in Serian, Sarawak, is believed to have spread to the state from infected dogs in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam said Malaysia generally does not experience rampant rabies cases but it is imported from neighbouring countries owing to porous borders. Dr. Subramaniam told a press conference after the Cabinet meeting that Malaysia was declared free of rabies in 2012, but cross-border transmission still happened.
“We suspect that it is from Kalimantan as there is a large rabies outbreak there.
“They (Kalimantan) experience rabies outbreak on occasion.”
The 68 dog-bite victims in the district would be closely monitored for symptoms, although they had already been vaccinated because the rabies virus replicated slowly, over the span of months.
That is why people who were bitten all the way back in April are screened, and those who show signs of rabies are urged to seek immediate medical attention. He gave an assurance that the ministry has sufficient vaccine for those in the affected area while the Veterinary Services Department would be responsible for vaccinating pets and stray dogs there.
Dr. Subramaniam also added,
“In 2015, infected dogs from southern Thailand crossed over and spread the virus to dogs in Perlis. Cases were then detected in Kedah and as far as Penang.
“It shows that our borders are not only porous to humans but also dogs.”
So far, there had only been 3 confirmed rabies cases in Serian following the outbreak, resulted in two fatalities and the third patient in critical condition.
(Source: The Star)