By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Malaysia Ministry of Health reported a human rabies death in Sarawak, which was confirmed positive on 5 May 2021.

Image/Malaysia MOH

The 45-year-old female citizen was living in Rh Janggu, Sungai Tepus, Selangau, Sarawak. She has a history of being bitten by her pet dog on the left hand while disposing of the dog who was fighting with another dog on March 9, 2021.

The case had washed the wound and sought treatment at the Tepus Health Clinic the same day. Wound treatment was performed, anti-tetanus injections were given and follow-up appointments were given. Unfortunately the case has dropped out of follow -up treatment. Upon successful detection, the case was given the first dose of anti-rabies vaccine injection on 29 April 2021.

However, the case complained of eye pain, weakness and numbness in the left hand while attending the second dose injection on May 2, 2021 and was admitted to the ward at Sibu Hospital for treatment. Clinical samples for rabies virus detection test were taken and sent to the laboratories of Sarawak General Hospital and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). The results of the sample were reported positive for rabies on 5 May 2021. In the meantime the patient’s condition was deteriorating and the case had died on 6 May 2021 at 7:13 am with a diagnosis of rabies encephalitis.

With the addition of new cases, the latest number of rabies cases in Sarawak for 2021 is three (3) cases. Meanwhile, since the rabies epidemic was declared on July 1, 2017 in Sarawak, the number of cases was 34 with 32 deaths. There were two (2) surviving cases of children with severe neurological complications.

When a rabies virus infection that occurs in an animal bite wound is not treated immediately, it will result in death if the infection has reached the brain. Therefore, MOH would like to advise the public, especially in SARAWAK to always take preventive measures to prevent rabies virus infection; namely:

  • if bitten or scratched or exposed to animal saliva, the wound must be washed with running water and soap for at least 15 minutes;
  • seek immediate treatment at the nearest health clinic or hospital;
  • ensure that the COMPLETE anti-rabies vaccine is received according to the appointment given by the medical practitioner, even when executing the movement control order (PKP) during this COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • do not handle any wild animals, including wild dogs and cats.