In a follow-up on the rabies outbreak situation in Sarawak, Malaysia, health officials are reporting an additional human rabies death in Sarawak, the 12th fatality since the outbreak started last summer.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

The case of rabies is a 44-year-old man from Jalan Matang, Kuching. Based on the information received, there was no history of dog bites or other animals but had hit a wild dog who had bitten his wife on January 13, 2018. At that time, the patient had an open wound in his right hand. It was reported that the dog then died.

The patient did not get any treatment even though he had taken his wife to the hospital for treatment and vaccination. He started suffering from his right hand in early August 2018 and has been receiving outpatient treatment on August 6, 2018. His condition has worsened since August 11, 2018 and has symptoms of numbness and weak arms, can not move, tension in the neck and hydrophobia. He was taken to the HUS Emergency Unit for treatment on August 16, 2018. The test on clinical samples conducted at the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) was positive for rabies virus infection.

The patient died on August 21, 2018 with the cause of death from Rabies Encephalitis.

The wife is currently in good health and has completed her 4-dose anti-rabies vaccination schedule.

Since rabies was declared epidemic in Sarawak on June 30, 2017 until August 21, 2018, the number of human cases was 13 cases including 12 rabies deaths; with a death rate of 92.3 per cent. There is only one patient who has been discharged from the hospital but with severe neurological complications and is currently being treated at home.