KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — A 46-year-old man from Kota Padawan, Kuching, who failed to inform the authorities that he was bitten by his rabid pet puppy, died of rabies three days ago.
Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the victim was confirmed to be infected with rabies through a laboratory test conducted by the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) yesterday.
He said the man had taken the puppy from his friend at the end of May and decided to keep it as his pet not knowing that it was a rabid animal.
“On June 15, the puppy had wandered out of the house and the victim, while trying to catch it, was bitten on the palm.
“On the same day, his eight-year-old daughter was also bitten by the puppy. The victim and his daughter then washed the wound on her hand for about 15 minutes,” said Dr Noor Hisham in a statement today.
Dr Noor Hisham said that on June 17, the victim took his daughter to a health clinic and her case was referred to the Post Bite Clinic (PBC) at the Sarawak Hospital. He took the girl to the PBC the following day, where she was given the first dose of the vaccine (for rabies).
“When he accompanied his daughter for the follow-up visits to the clinic to complete the full course of the vaccine, the victim never once informed the hospital or PBC staff that he too had been bitten by the puppy,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
He added that on July 29, the victim began experiencing fever, headache and fatigue, which prompted him to seek treatment at two different health clinics on July 31 and August 2.
“Still, he did not disclose to the authorities that he had been bitten by the puppy,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham said the man finally informed the authorities that he was bitten by his pet puppy when his condition worsened and had to seek treatment at the Sarawak Hospital on August 3.
“The victim was by then very aggressive and suffering from hydrophobia, aerophobia and weakness on his hands...he died at 2.51am on August 7.
“His daughter, on the other hand, is reported to be in good condition and currently under observation,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham said the man’s case brought the total of reported rabies cases to 20, including 19 deaths, since its outbreak in 2017.
As such, he urged the people in Sarawak not to pick up stray dogs and other animals in the neighbourhood, especially when their vaccination status was unknown as the animals might have been infected and incubating before the symptoms appear later.
He also advised those bitten by dogs to wash the wound with soap and running water for at least 15 minutes and to immediately seek treatment at nearby government clinics or hospitals.
He said the risk of rabies being caused by the bites of dogs and other animals in Sarawak was high as the state’s Veterinary Services Department had reported that 40 per cent of about 1,000 dogs in the state were tested positive with the rabies virus. — Bernama