By Marissa Dinar

Recently, four patients succumbed to the rabies virus after being bitten by infected dogs. Those four cases were localised to the Serian district of Sarawak, but according to the Health Ministry for Malaysia, the rabies virus has the highest genomic similarities to strains of those from Kalimantan and Sulawesi.

Just today, it was also reported by the Star that 19 dogs were culled in Kuala Sepetang, Perak in order to inspect the area for rabies. On Monday, Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir declared the Matang sub-district as a rabies infected area.

Considering the possibility of the infection spreading, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to help educate the public about how to recognise signs of infected pets, how it spreads as well as the symptoms you or your family members might show should you get infected as well.

Fact sheet:

  1. The virus can spread via animal bites – mostly dogs and cats. (ie: if their saliva gets into contact with human mucosa or fresh skin wounds), and scratches.

2. It can take about 1-3 months for the symptoms to appear if someone has been infected, but may vary from 1 week to 1 year, depending on how much virus has gotten into your system.

3. Infected individuals may develop one of two kinds of rabies, furious rabies, or paralytic rabies.

4. Furious rabies are faster in taking its course, while paralytic rabies take longer to develop – but will cause the individual to fall into a coma, and eventually death occurs.

5. Initial signs your animal might show if infected:

a) Unusual aggression

b) Vomiting

c) Lack of appetite

d) Foaming at the mouth

e) Signs of paralysis

6. Symptoms you/your loved ones might show if infected:

a) Fever

b) Hyperactivity

c) Excitable behaviour

d) Fear of water

e) Fear of drafts/fresh air (sometimes)

f) Sensation of prickling, pins and needles or aches at the sight of wound (Parasthesia)

g) Headaches

7. Rabies in pets are vaccine preventable.

8. What to do if you get bitten by an animal exhibiting signs of rabies infection:

a) Extensively and locally wash the wound as quickly as possible (minimum 15

minutes with soap and water)

b) Go to the nearest clinic and hospital to get treated.

  1. What you can do to prevent the spread of the rabies infection:

a) Bring your pets to the nearest vet in order to get them immunised and vaccinated.

b) Avoid contact with stray or wild cats and dogs.

c) If you notice any unusually aggressive animals, report it to your local authorities.

d) If you notice any unusual aggression in YOUR pets – bring it to the vet and report it to

Pejabat Jabatan Perkhidmatan Veterinar.

We urge the public to be on the lookout, and be more aware of your surroundings if you frequently commute by walking around areas known for strays.

However, we DO NOT CONDONE inflicting harm or injury to these animals without the permission of local authorities.

All information is sourced from

  1. The World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099/en/
  2. The Director-General of Health’s website: https://kpkesihatan.com/2017/07/18/kenyataan-akhbar-kpk-18-julai-2017-situasi-terkini-kes-rabies-di-sarawak-dan-hasil-kajian-virologi-oleh-institut-penyelidikan-perubatan-imr/
  3. The Star: http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/07/18/19-strays-culled-in-location-of-rabid-dog-attack/