13 deaths have been reported from the 15 rabies infection cases from 1 January to 7 August.
A total of 15 cases of rabies infections in humans have been reported in Sarawak from 1 January to 7 August. And 13 of them have resulted in death. The number of cases marks a significant increase of 87.5 percent as compared to last year, where only seven cases were reported.
“Since the outbreak was declared in July 2017, there have been a total of 70 rabies cases among humans in Sarawak, resulting in 63 deaths,” said Sarawak State Health Director Dr Ooi Choo Huck in a statement.
According to Ooi, out of the total number of cases thus far, five of them were reported in Sibu Division, four in Serian Division, three in Kuching, two in Bintulu Division, and one case in Samarahan Division.
“Out of the 15 cases reported so far this year, 11 had a history of dog bites and two a history of cat bites or scratches. There was no clear history of exposure to animals in the other two cases,” Ooi added.
However, Ooi elaborated that eight patients (61.54%) from the dog and cat bite cases, did not seek treatment from any health facility after being bitten or scratched by the related animals.
He has since asked the public to adopt preventive measures, following the increase in rabies cases. To further combat the issue, 64 public health facilities, and 29 private facilities have been established throughout the state.
11 hospitals are also to provide Rabies Immunoglobulin injections. Hence, Ooi urged anyone who has been exposed to the saliva of an infected animal to immediately wash the affected part of their body with water and seek treatment at the nearest health facility.
This is because rabies could be fatal if the infection reaches the brain.
“(Infection occurs) either through a wound or the mucous layer of the body. This includes claw marks by domestic or wild cats (and) can cause death if the infection (in humans) spreads to the brain,” he said.