Boy with no animal bite history dies of rabies
Notion that rabies can only be spread through animal bites shattered, virus can also be spread through animal saliva
KUCHING: A five-year-old boy was confirmed to be the latest rabies encephalitis fatality although he had never complained of being bi en by a dog or other animals.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) confirmed that the death of the boy on Nov 2 was due to rabies encephalitis a er tests conducted at the Institute for Medical Research returned with positive results.
Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement yesterday that the virus can spread through an infected animal’s saliva if it comes into contact with an open wound.
He cautioned parents to advise their children to avoid being licked by dogs especially strays, and inform adults in the family if they had been bi en or licked by animals.
The situation is very serious as Dr Noor Hisham revealed that the Sarawak Veterinary Services Department had reported that out of every five dogs in Sarawak, two are positive with the rabies virus.
He said the deceased from Kampung Mambong, Jalan Penrissen succumbed at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) on Nov 2 while receiving care at the intensive care unit.
“The deceased never complained that he was ever bi en by a dog or any animal,” he said.
“The deceased became less active on Oct 13 and complained of sore throat. On Oct 15, he developed a fever and was out of his usual character,” he said.
He added the deceased was first taken to a private clinic for a medical check-up on Oct 15 and three days later (Oct 18) was brought to a government clinic (Klinik Kesihatan) where he was diagnosed with Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI).
The deceased’s health further deteriorated and he was brought to SGH on Oct 21. He succumbed to the virus on Nov 2.
It was also revealed that the family has two unvaccinated pet dogs which are roaming with other stray dogs but presumed not infected by the rabies virus.
With the confirmation of this case, the rabies virus in Sarawak since July 1, 2017 has taken 21 lives from a total of 22 cases. Six of these cases took place this year.
The deceased never complained that he was ever bitten by a dog or any animal.
Dr Noor Hisham