KUCHING: The fourth phase of an intensive operation to halt the spread of rabies in Sarawak is scheduled to take place in Serian and Simunjan districts from June 20 to 25.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the Serian leg of the operation will cover 257 villages which are home to 18,837 households.
Serian is thought to harbour 7,817 pet dogs belonging to 3,900 owners as well as 552 strays.
The operation in Simunjan, meanwhile, will cover 144 villages and 12 oil palm plantations.
Uggah said the district is believed to be home to an estimated 257 unvaccinated pet dogs and 104 strays.
He was speaking while chairing the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) meeting on rabies at Wisma Bapa here, today.
The rabies outbreak in the state is currently a 'Stage 2 Disaster', and has claimed 17 human lives since it was first detected in May 2017.
Uggah, who is also the committee chairman, said that a suspected victim is undergoing treatment at the Sarawak General Hospital.
"It is sad that… human cases are still (being detected). We must take this very seriously, especially in relation to our on-going and future anti- rabies operations," he added.
Despite frequent advice provided by the authorities – via newspapers, social media, leaflets and posters – on how to deal with dog bites, many in the state are still ignorant about rabies treatment.
"The treatment is very easy. First, wash the bite or scratch marks with soap and running water for 10 to 15 minutes.
“Then go immediately to the nearest hospital or clinic to seek further treatment," Uggah said.
He added that the three previous phases of the operation – carried out in the districts of Lundu, Bau, Padawan, Samarahan and Kuching – saw the removal of 5,867 stray dogs and 38 cats.
"Generally, I believed we have achieved our objective, despite facing some weaknesses, challenges and opposition.
“I hope the coming operation will be carried out in a more orderly and effective fashion," Uggah added.