S’wak set to eliminate Rabies (Updated)

26 Feb 2019 / 17:21 H.

KUCHING: The Sarawak government is all geared up to launch the ‘Ops Rabies Sarawak’ on March 1 to eliminate rabies that has dogged the state since July 2017.

The 10-day operation will be confined initially to the Lundu and Bau districts, and will be extended eventually to the other districts, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who is chairman of the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, said today.

Spearheaded by the police as the commander, the operation would see the vaccination of all pet dogs in the districts and the rounding up of all stray dogs, he told a press conference after chairing a coordination meeting of the Rabies Elimination Operation at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here.

Ops Rabies Sarawak is the pioneer project in the effort to eradicate rabies after the disease was declared a Stage Two disaster following its outbreak in more than one district in the state.

“The time has come for us to go all-out to stamp out rabies. After this first operation is successful, we will move on to the other districts,” said Uggah.

The agencies to be involved in the operation include the Malaysian Armed Forces; Fire & Rescue Department; Veterinary Services Department; Sarawak Local Government and Housing Ministry; and Sarawak Forestry Department.

Uggah advised village heads and community leaders to extend cooperation to the exercise.

He asked owners of dogs to keep their pets indoors or in their enclosures to enable the operation teams to identify the stray dogs easily.

“Owners of pet dogs are prohibited from taking the animals out of the operation area,” he said.

Uggah said that 80 per cent of the pet dogs in the Lundu and Bau districts had been vaccinated so far and 121,141 dogs in the whole of Sarawak had been vaccinated against the disease.

“We want to have at least 70 per cent of the dogs in Sarawak vaccinated so that the state can be declared free of rabies,” he said.

Up to this month, 27 cases involving rabies-positive dogs had been recorded, with 11 cases in Kuching; three each in Bau, Samarahan and Bintulu; two each in Sarikei, Miri and Siburan; and one case in Simunjan.

Fifteen people have died of rabies since the outbreak in 2017. — Bernama

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