Malaysia health officials report two (2) new cases of rabies suspected in humans in Sarawak.

A suspect is still in the treatment and observation of a medical specialist at the Sarawak General Hospital (HUS). While one suspected case has passed away on 7 December 2018 during treatment at HUS. Both suspected cases are still waiting for laboratory test results for disease verification.

Image/Malaysia MOH
Image/Malaysia MOH

The first suspected case of rabies was a 64-year-old man living in Kuching, Sarawak. In mid-September 2018, the patient was bitten on the calf by a puppy who also had bitten his wife in his thumb. The dog was just picked up and nourished by both husband and wife one week before the bite. After being bitten, the puppy was released in the Matang area of Sarawak and his current status was unknown.

After being bitten, the patient just washed the bite and did not get any treatment at the health facility.

On November 27, 2018, the patient presented with knee pain and weakness in the lower limbs and has been receiving treatment at a private clinic. However, he did not inform that he had been bitten by a dog to a private medical practitioner who cared for.

On December 2, 2018, he was treated at HUS when his condition was not improving. The patient was admitted to the ward where he showed symptoms of confusion and was transferred to the Infectious Disease Ward for further observation. His wife had no symptoms and the anti-rabies vaccine was first given.

A second suspected case of rabies is a 74-year-old man living in Kuching, Sarawak. On November 24, 2018, the patient suffered illness on the left side of the body and had sought treatment at a private clinic.

The next day, he was sent to HUS for further treatment as his condition was getting worse. On November 28, 2018, the patient was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). He died on December 7, 2018 at 3:15 am with the cause of death as a clinical rabies. The investigation found that patients had no history of biting animals.

Both suspected cases of rabies are still awaiting verification of laboratory tests. Clinical specimens have been sent to the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and are being processed. Since June 30, 2017 to date, the number of confirmed cases of rabies among people in Sarawak is 14 people including 13 deaths and one (1) home-treated case with neurological complications.