Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin ordered the Department of Veterinary Services and Animal Industry (DOVSAI) to step up monitoring activities and take strong measures to prevent the entry of live animals, especially dogs and cats, from Sarawak. File pix by MALAI ROSMAH TUAH.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is taking precautionary measures to prevent the occurrence of rabies in humans in light of three cases reported in Sarawak recently.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin today ordered the Department of Veterinary Services and Animal Industry (DOVSAI) to step up monitoring activities and take strong measures to prevent the entry of live animals, especially dogs and cats, from Sarawak.

“It has come to my attention that three human cases of rabies were diagnosed in Serian, Sarawak, by the Ministry of Health.

“I believe that this is the first reported case in East Malaysia and I am relieved to say that Sabah is still free from rabies,” he said in a statement.

Yahya, who is also the state Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, stressed that all licences issued by DOVSAI for the import of dogs, cats and other live animals from Sarawak or any infected area is now void.

Live animals from Sarawak will be denied entry into Sabah, he said.

“I believe that all entry points have been notified to tighten veterinary inspection. I urge the Health Department to continue their collaboration with DOVSAI to report all cases of humans bitten by dogs.

“I also urge the public to report any suspicious dog behaviour to the nearest DOVSAI office, particularly at border towns,” stressed Yahya.

The Health Ministry revealed yesterday that three children, aged 4, 6, and 7, in Serian have been infected with rabies.

It was reported that the children 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.

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