Penang takes steps to prevent rabies outbreak

Staff of the Perak state veterinary department vaccinating a pet dog against rabies in Kuala Sepetang on July 18, 2017
Staff of the Perak state veterinary department vaccinating a pet dog against rabies in Kuala Sepetang on July 18, 2017BERNAMA

BUTTERWORTH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Penang is taking full precautionary measures to prevent any outbreak of rabies after several cases were reported in other states in Malaysia earlier this month.

Dr Afif Bahardin, chairman of the state health committee, said the veterinary department is stockpiling vaccines and has also implemented several measures, such as implanting microchips in dogs.

"We are not taking any chances although there have not been any rabies cases reported in the state," he told a press conference at the veterinary department on Wednesday (July 19).

The state was caught off guard during a rabies outbreak in 2015 and, faced with a shortage of vaccines, had to cull hundreds of dogs to contain the situation.

Current preventive measures include setting up roadblocks to check vehicles bringing in pets into the state.

"The veterinary department has the power to set up roadblocks to check vehicles, and such measures have already been implemented recently with the help of the police," said Dr Afif.

He said there were 10,000 stray dogs in Penang, which would make it difficult to keep track of any rabies outbreak, but added that about 7,000 dogs have been registered and vaccinated so far.

On July 4, two children in Serian, Sarawak died from the virus, while a third child died two days later, prompting the state to implement vaccinations, cullings and quarantine measures.

Meanwhile in Perak, Datuk Mah Hang Soo, chairman of the state health committee, confirmed on Wednesday (July 19) that five samples taken from several dogs culled by the veterinary services department have tested negative for rabies.

On Monday (July 17), the department culled 19 stray dogs in the coastal town of Kuala Sepetang after two girls there were bitten by a rabid dog. The next day, 29 more stray dogs were culled.

"You will have a progress report on the tests on Friday (July 21). As of now, I can confirm that the first five samples tested negative and we are waiting for three more results," Dr Mah said.