KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A 26-year-old man from Kuching, the capital of Sarawak state, who was infected with rabies, has died.
His death raised the total to 17 fatalities since a rabies outbreak was announced in the East Malaysian state on July 1 last year, the Health Ministry said.
Malaysia's Health Ministry's director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the suspected case reported on Thursday (May 30) was confirmed as a rabies case the following day after tests turned up positive.
The deceased was the 18th case reported since July 1, he said.
The victim was infected after being scratched by a dog whose vaccination status was unclear.
"The ministry wishes to remind the public, especially those in Sarawak, to avoid taking or picking up dogs or other animals where the animals' status of rabies vaccination is unknown, even if it is found within the neighbourhood," he said in a statement on Saturday (June 1).
He said the animals could have been infected with the rabies virus, but would not show any symptoms during the incubation period.
"To prevent the spread of rabies, people are advised to wash the part of the body bitten by a dog or wild animal with running water and soap for at least 15 minutes.
"This is to remove the saliva remnants," Dr Noor Hisham said.
The person should then go the nearest clinic or hospital for treatment, he added.
From July 1 last year to May 30 this year, the Sarawak government declared 62 areas in 11 divisions as rabies infection areas, he said.
Only the Limbang district was still free of rabies for animals.
The director-general said people must ensure their pet dogs receive anti-rabies vaccination every year, and that their pets are kept within the house and not allowed to mingle with wild dogs or animals.