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Very high density of rabid dogs in MPP areas, warns SGH specialist

0 month ago, 26-May-2023

Dr Chua speaks at the Rabies Awareness Public Forum. Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING (May 26): Several areas under the Padawan Municipal Councils (MPP) jurisdiction have been identified as highly infectious areas for rabies.

Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) infectious diseases physician Dr Chua Hock Hin said among the highly infectious areas are Batu Kitang, Jalan Stephen Yong, and Mile 7 onwards.

When we see cases of dog bites from there, we don’t take the chance.

“The area has a very, very high density of rabid animals,” he said in his presentation for the Dog Bite Kills Rabies Awareness Public Forum at the Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Auditorium today.

He warned that Sarawakians are facing a serious threat from rabies, with children and young people particularly at risk.

He pointed out that the rabies problem in Sarawak can be divided into urban areas with poor pet ownership leading to stray dogs and pockets of people with poor awareness, as well as suburban and interior with poor awareness.

“We should learn from countries who are struggling to eliminate animal rabies. If you eliminate animal rabies, you will not have human rabies.

“Animal control is a very important short-term measure to reduce the number of animals that carry the rabies virus and pose a threat to the public,” he stressed.

He pointed out that in areas that have a very high density of animals with rabies, it is not possible to predict what type of bite a person will get.

“It is totally out of anyone’s control and so the only way to keep people safe is to control the animal population there while buying time for other things to work like doing animal vaccination, he said.

Dr Chua said rabies is now endemic in Sarawak and the disease is largely transmitted by dog bites.

He explained that if an animal is infected with rabies, its saliva will be very infectious.

“How likely a person will be infected will depend on the amount of virus inoculated into the body.

“It also depends on how deep the wound is and if it hits the nerve (genitalia, head, and neck region or hands) and how close is the bite to the brain,” he added.