Columns
Campaigns needed to fight rabies scourge
John Teo | 02 Feb 2018 00:30
There is clear evidence the outbreak has spread beyond the swathe of border areas south of Kuching

The rabies outbreak in Sarawak has not gone away and that is bad news on several fronts for the state. Not only does it continue to pose a serious health risk for the population at large but there is a new bio-security risk as the state pushes ahead with animal husbandry exports. State Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said late last year that to be officially declared rabies-free, there must be no new case of rabies or virus infection within a two-year period.

But, if anything, there is clear evidence the outbreak has spread beyond the swathe of border areas south of Kuching. Just last month, Assistant Minister of Housing and Public Health Dr Annuar Rapaee said rabies had been detected in a stray dog in Julau in the Sarikei division in central Sarawak at the end of the year and two further cases were reported on Jan 8.

The fear is that the disease may soon spread to another major urban centre, Sibu. Annuar had however reassured: “In order to keep Sibu division rabies-free, a rabies control programme has been drawn up and will be implemented immediately. This is crucial to prevent dogs in Sibu being affected by rabies.”

A mass anti-rabies vaccination exercise has also been launched in the division, targeting 70% of the estimated 35,000 dogs there.