KUALA LUMPUR, August 16 — The Sarawak state government has declared Kampung Narum in Marudi, Miri, as a new rabies-infected area, after a stray dog was confirmed rabies-positive last August 2.
Sarawak Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Minister Stephen Rundi said in a statement yesterday that this year, animal rabies was reported in Kuching (31), Padawan (18), Kota Samarahan (5), Tebekang (4), Lundu (3), and one case each in Siburan, Serian, Sibu, Selangau, Mukah, and Lawas – and now one in Marudi.
This was based on 392 samples tested by the Sarawak Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) that found 73 dogs and five cats to be rabies-positive.
Sarawak DVS, in response to the cases, has intensified anti-rabies vaccination programmes throughout the state, focusing on Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu, and Miri in particular.
The DVS has also announced that it will be conducting free rabies vaccinations for pet dogs at the Taman Awam Miri Car Park from August 19 to 20.
Vaccinations will be carried out from 9am to 4pm. Owners are reminded to ensure that their dogs are aged three months and above, healthy, and not pregnant before bringing them for vaccination.
Owners must bring their identification card and their dog’s vaccination record, if they have one, to the vaccination drive. After the dog is vaccinated, owners must quarantine the dog for 28 days to allow the dog to build up immunity against the virus.
According to the Sarawak state health department, the state has recorded 13 deaths out of 15 cases of rabies. Since 2017, Sarawak has recorded a total of 70 human cases of rabies, including 63 deaths.
“Based on the above statistics, Sarawak is currently experiencing a rise in rabies cases for both humans and animals. Therefore, I would like to remind the public to take extra precautions and urge anyone who is bitten by [an] animal to quickly visit a clinic,” Rundi said.
“Dog owners must also ensure that their pets are vaccinated with [the] anti-rabies vaccine. Any dog owner or person in charge of a dog who fails without reasonable cause to comply with the Anti-Rabies Vaccination Order shall be guilty of an offence and may be compounded up to RM1,000.
“Owners who let their dogs roam freely on the streets shall also be liable to a fine not exceeding RM2,500 under Section 37, VPHO (Veterinary Public Health Ordinance) 1999. Dog owners must keep their dogs under effective control by confining it within an enclosed area from which it is impossible for the dog to escape.
“The Local Authority may seize and impound any dogs which are not on a leash in accordance with the Local Authorities (Dog Licencing and Control) by-laws, 2018.”
DVS Sarawak and Immune Belt Enforcement Team (IBET) has set a vaccination target of 40,000 stray dogs for the year 2023. To date, it has successfully vaccinated 27,668 dogs.