Three children have been infected with rabies in the Serian District. Two of the victims were bitten by a dog. File pix by SYED ISMAIL SYED ABU BAKAR.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has revealed that three children, including two siblings in Serian District, Sarawak, have been infected with rabies.

The victims, aged 4, 6 and 7, were initially thought to suffer from viral encephalitis and showed symptoms of fever, abnormal behaviour and aggression at times, and were afraid of water.

The children were warded at the intensive care unit of the Sarawak General Hospital where two were put on oxygen.

Further investigation found that two of the victims had been bitten by a dog about a month or two before the manifestation of symptoms.

The hospital notified the Sarawak Health Department on June 22.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said urine samples, saliva and skin biopsies of the victims sent to the Institute of Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur tested positive for the rabies virus.

In light of the infections, the ministry has taken a number of control and prevention measures, including comprehensive investigation and carrying out of active and passive identification, as well as issuing alerts to all public and private health facilities in the localities of the district concerned, he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said an infected individual could potentially become paralysed and fall into a coma and die if left untreated. -- BERNAMA