Quarantine to be in place in several areas of Sarawak amid rabies outbreak, Perak sub-district declared a 'rabies infection area'

PASIR SALAK (THE STAR/ANN) - Several areas in Sarawak are expected to be quarantined following an outbreak of rabies, especially in Serian, said Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman.

Meanwhile, the state government in Perak has declared one of its sub-districts as a "rabies infection area" effective from Monday (July 17).  

However, the quarantine would not involve entire districts because it may affect the socio-economic well-being of the people in the respective districts.

"The quarantine will be enforced if the situation becomes serious but at the same time, the pros and cons must be looked at before such action is taken," said the minister.

"The authorities are taking various steps to curb the spread of the virus."

The Pasir Salak MP was speaking to reporters at his constituency's Hari Raya open house at Taman Kekal Pengeluaran Makanan, Degong, on Saturday. 

There were four confirmed rabies cases in Serian where three died and one is now warded at the Sarawak General Hospital.

According to the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, the rabies outbreak in Serian district was under control as authorities continue to trace and treat dog bite cases and vaccinate animals in the affected areas.

The committee said 26 dog bite cases were detected from July 2 onwards, including 19 cases on Sunday. This brings the cumulative total since April 1 to 332, of which 235 have been treated.

"Those who have been bitten by dogs in the affected areas are urged to come forward immediately for a check-up and vaccination," it said in its latest update.

As of Sunday, the Sarawak Veterinary Services Department has vaccinated 5,850 animals - 1,626 dogs, 4,199 cats and 25 other animals.

The department urged those whose pets have been vaccinated to confine the animals and observe their behaviour.

"Report to the authorities at once if there are changes such as aggressiveness, biting anything that moves, showing fear of light and water, drooling or acting nervously," it said.

Over in Perak, the Matang sub-district has been declared a "rabies infection area", Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said. 

Dr Zambry, who signed the declaration, said that the measure was taken to contain the spread of the disease but said that this was an isolated case. 

"Only one case has been reported but we are taking steps to contain it. The people in this sub-district are not allowed to take their dogs out until further notice," he told a press conference on Monday.

The measure was taken after authorities begun vaccinating all pets within a 1km radius following the death of a rabid dog that bit two children in Kuala Sepetang, about 70km from Ipoh.