Three children are “gravely ill” with confirmed rabies in Serian District, Sarawak on the Malaysian state on Borneo, according to multiple media reports. The children, all seven years and younger, presented with symptoms of fever, abnormal behavior and aggression at times, and were afraid of water.

Close-up of a dog's face during late-stage "dumb" paralytic rabies/CDC
Close-up of a dog’s face during late-stage “dumb” paralytic rabies/CDC

As of Saturday, they were being treated at the Sarawak General Hospital’s (SGH) intensive care unit.

The Sarawak Veterinary Services Department said yesterday that all stray cats and dogs will be captured and observed for rabies infection. Residents in the area claim their pet dogs have been acting strangely since the end of April. One resident said, “We noticed changes in the dogs, such as their tails were downward, they were salivating excessively and were acting aggressively by pouncing on anything, including trees, humans or even their own tails.

“Gradually, the dogs’ behaviour took a turn for the worse as they were running aimlessly.”

LISTEN: Rabies: A comprehensive interview with Pamela Wilson

The department’s acting director Dr Adrian Susin Ambud said will carry out house-to-house survey and vaccinate the dogs and cats in the affected areas to prevent further spread. In addition, Dr Adrian urged those who were bitten by dogs to seek immediate treatment and also inform the nearest veterinary offices.

Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said there is no need to panic over the recent outbreak of rabies in Serian. “Rabies have actually been around for years. It’s not something that had fallen from the sky,” he said.

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