Matang declared a rabies outbreak area

IPOH: The mukim (sub-district) of Matang, in the Larut, Matang and Selama district has been declared a rabies (mad dog disease) outbreak area.

In announcing this yesterday, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said the area had been gazetted as such to curtail any possible spread of the disease.

The gazette was made under the Rabies Outbreak Area Order, as provided under Sub-section 39(1) of the Animals Act 1953 (Act 647).

"Although this is an isolated case – only one case involved – the order has to be made and measures such as containment be carried out to prevent the disease from spreading," he said.

His order comes after two girls, aged 11 and 12, were bitten on July 4 by an infected pet dog in Kuala Sepetang before it died eight days later.

The two girls were admitted to Taiping Hospital where they are reportedly in stable condition having their wounds treated and being given tetanus jabs.

"The public must understand that this is not a rabies epidemic but the government needs to take prevention and control measures to ensure the disease does not spread," he said.

Zambry said under the order, no one is allowed to take any dog out of the Matang area, except with the written permission of the Perak Veterinary Services Department (VSD) director Dr Fuziah Muhayat.

People responsible for caring for dogs in a rabies-infected area must ensure the dogs are tied securely or kept under tight control in an enclosed areas where they cannot escape.

Zambry warned any dog not kept under effective control in a rabies-infected area could be destroyed by the authorities upon orders of the state VSD director.

He said besides destroying stray dogs, the department is also carrying out vaccination of dogs and taking samples for tests.

Meanwhile, Health Ministry Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced that a five-year-old child in Serian is the fourth and latest victim to die from the rabies outbreak in Sarawak.

He said Florancesia ak Edward from Kampung Ampungan, Serian died at 2.05pm yesterday from rabies encephalomyelitis.

"The total number of rabies cases now stands at four, where all have succumbed to the disease. No new rabies cases have been reported," he said in a statement yesterday.

Florancesia was sent to the Serian Hospital for treatment on July 3 after she was bitten on May 27 and came down with fever and complained of body pain and exhaustion.

The child was later transferred to the Sarawak General Hospital's paediatric intensive care unit on July 4.

The first two victims, a six-year-old girl and four-year-old boy, both siblings, from Kampung Paon, Sungai Rimu, Serian, died at the hospital on July 4.

A third victim, a seven-year-old child, died there on July 13.

Commenting on another incident involving a six-year-old boy, who was bitten in Serian but later warded at the Malacca Hospital, Noor Hisham said based on initial lab tests, the victim tested negative for rabies.

"As of now, there are no rabies-positive cases among humans in Malacca and Perak," he said.

Noor Hisham also urged anyone with a recent history of being bitten by animals to visit the nearest clinic or hospital for a checkup.