All-Out War Against Rabies

KUCHING: The state has declared an all-out war against stray dogs following reports of increase in bites by suspected rabid dogs here and in Julau, in Sarikei Division, last month.

The areas in Kuching Division where the increased dog bites were reported are Lorong Ketitir in Batu Kawah, Taman Malihah and Taman Sri Makmur in Matang, and Kampung Singai Atas in Bau.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the State Disaster Management Committee met yesterday and decided to launch an operation against stray dogs starting today in response to the rising number of reported dog bites, in a bid to curb the spread of rabies in the state.

Uggah, who is chairman of the committee, said several government agencies and departments will be involved in the operation.

The team from the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, State Veterinary Services Department and assisted by the police will intensify the effort to catch dogs roaming around, Uggah told a press conference yesterday at Wisma Bapa Malaysia.

The integrated operation here will start at a spot near Siang Siang Food Centre in Matang at 3pm today.

Any dogs found roaming around, including pet dogs and those with tags indicating that they have been vaccinated with anti- rabies, would not be spared.

The dogs caught would be kept for 48 hours before being put down, and pet owners must claim their dogs within that period.

Anybody who tries to prevent the team from carrying out the operation would be punished under the existing law, Uggah warned.

He called for public cooperation to fight rabies and advised dog owners not to allow their pets to roam outside their compound.

Uggah also disclosed that road blocks will be carried out from Sibu southward at the two main roads � Paradom Bridge and Durin Bridge � to check on movement of animals, particularly dogs, while plantations, especially in Julau area, would be closely monitored for dogs.

Meanwhile, Health director Dr Jamillah Hashim said the total number of reported dog bites in Kuching from July 1 last year until Jan 1 is 2,424.

The figure surpasses the total number of dog bites in Serian, which is 2,233, over the same period.

She added that most of the dog bites in Kuching are on the upper parts of the victims’ body which she said are high risk areas, and that most of the victims were bitten by dogs with symptoms of rabies.

The department is monitoring the mad dog cases very closely but at the moment, there are no positive signs of the victims having rabies, she pointed out.

According to her, the number of rabies victims in the state still stands at six, with the latest victim, who was admitted in August last year, still in critical condition.

Present at the conference were deputy state secretary Datu Jaul Samion, who is deputy chairman of the State Disaster Management Committee, State Veterinary Services Department director Dr Adrian Susin Ambud and Ministry of Local Government and Housing public health chief Dr Cheong Yaw Ling.

Source: The Borneo Post