KUCHING, Oct 26 — Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas today urged dog owners and all relevant agencies to work together to make Sarawak rabies-free by the year 2025.
“Our target is to have no more human deaths due to the disease by the year 2021, and then, hopefully, we can declare Sarawak free of rabies in 2025,” he said at the launch of the state-level World Rabies Day here.
He said since the rabies outbreak was first reported in Sarawak in June 2017, 20 people have died after they were bitten by rabid dogs while one is still in critical condition.
He said the state disaster management committee, the state Veterinary Services Department, Health Department, local councils, police, military and non-governmental organisations have conducted joint operations to administer the rabies vaccine to dogs and cats.
He said about 150,000 dogs out of the estimated 220,000 dog population have been vaccinated during the special operation campaign.
He added about 10,000 cats had received the vaccine.
He said the special campaign is intended to reduce the number of rabies carriers and increase vaccinations among dogs.
“We are also trying to reduce the number of stray dogs on the streets and in housing estates,” he said.
Uggah, who is also the state disaster management committee chairman, said the state government is collaborating with Brunei, West Kalimantan and Sabah to control the outbreak.
“With Brunei, we are exchanging information with them, while Sabah is sending veterinary services personnel to help Sarawak.
“We are collaborating with West Kalimantan on border cooperation to prevent the free movement of dogs,” he said, adding that Indonesian workers have been banned from bringing their dogs to palm plantations in Sarawak.
He said the special operation to combat the spread of rabies will be carried out along the border with Kalimantan later this year.
He also said about RM9 million has been spent to purchase the rabies vaccine.