Health Ministry urged to investigate latest rabies death in Sarawak

Sarawak Veterinary Services Department personnel put down a puppy showing symptoms of being infected by rabies virus in Kampung Lebor, Gedong, Serian, July 5, 2017. — Bernama pic
Sarawak Veterinary Services Department personnel put down a puppy showing symptoms of being infected by rabies virus in Kampung Lebor, Gedong, Serian, July 5, 2017. — Bernama pic

KUCHING, June 13 — Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas wants the Health Ministry to investigate the latest fatal case of rabies in Sarawak and to ensure the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has not been breached.

Uggah said he felt very disturbed as he read the history of the case involving a 61-year-woman from Pending here who died yesterday while undergoing treatment at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH).

“It was reported that the doctor who treated the victim failed to send/refer her to the Rabies Clinic in Kuching immediately.

“This is the second case of rabies in Sarawak, where the doctor failed to refer their dog-bite patient to the Rabies Clinic,” Uggah, who is also deputy chief minister, said in a statement today.

He said the case of negligence was very serious and should not happen as it was imperative for the doctors to adhere to the SOP set by the Health Ministry on how to respond to cases involving dog bites, which includes immediately sending/referring the patient to the Rabies Clinic.

Earlier today, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the woman was confirmed to be infected with the rabies virus via a lab test conducted by the Institute for Medical Research yesterday.

He said the woman was bitten on her right thumb by a stray dog on April 29 and was admitted to the Contagious Disease Ward and given the rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) after she sought treatment at SGH on June 8. Prior to that, the woman had gone to a community clinic near her home to treat the wound.

Dr Noor Hisham said this case brought the number of confirmed cases of rabies involving humans in Sarawak to 19 since the rabies epidemic was declared on July 1, 2017.

Of the 19 cases, 18 were fatal and three were reported this year.

Dr Noor Hisham added that the Sarawak Health Department had issued a reminder to all medical practitioners in the state to ensure that the management of animal-bite cases including by dogs adhere to the Animal Bite Case Management Guideline. — Bernama

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