Malaysia seeks talks with Thailand and Indonesia over rabies outbreak

20-Jul-2017 Intellasia | The Star | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Malaysia is seeking talks with Indonesia and Thailand to strengthen disease control following a rabies outbreak.

The outbreak in Serian, Sarawak, took the lives of three children aged between four and seven in the past two weeks. And a five-year-old is in critical condition.

A report dated July 6 quoted Malaysia’s Health minister S. Subramaniam as saying the virus might have come from infected dogs in neighbouring Kalimantan, where there had been an outbreak.

Veterinary Services Department director-general Quaza Nisamuddin Hassan Nisam said it will hold talks with the Thai authorities next month. “We will contact the Indonesian authorities for a meeting as well,” he added.

In an interview with Sunday Star, Dr Quaza said the department was looking into setting up a rabies “immune belt”an area where intense control measures will be carried outalong the border with Indonesia’s Kalimantan, in Sabah and Sarawak.

He said a risk assessment study would be carried out within the next two months over the probability of future outbreaks and to determine how wide the rabies immune belt should be.

There is already a rabies immune belt in northern peninsula Malaysia that is 50km to 80km from the Thai border. That belt requires pet dogs to be vaccinated and the number of stray dogs controlled.

The risk assessment study would also determine whether it should be mandatory for dogs in the bordering areas in Sabah and Sarawak to be vaccinated against rabies.

Dr Quaza said the country has 20,000 doses of rabies vaccines and that is sufficient for now.

“The department is constantly monitoring the situation and we have matters under control.”

But people must ensure their pets are vaccinated, not let them roam and avoid contact with strays, he said. He added that it was important for everyone to have some basic knowledge of rabies, such as the signs shown by an infected animal. “Such infected animals are usually foaming at the mouth, If bitten, it is important for humans to immediately wash the bitten area with soap and water and seek medical treatment,” he advised.


Category: Health

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