KLANG: Sarawak’s approach in controlling a local rabies outbreak should be emulated by Perak, says former Zoo Negara assistant director Assoc Prof Datuk Dr S. Vellayan.
“They are vaccinating all the dogs in and around the (Serian) area and this is the right method to manage an outbreak,” added Dr Vellayan, who is now with Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Puncak Alam campus.
This contrasts with the handling by Penang, which culled a large number of dogs when rabies was reported there in 2015.
None of the canines killed tested positive for rabies.
Dr Vellayan said authorities can also enlist senior and retired government veterinarians familiar with rabies to help out.
“Not all vets are able to identify the clinical signs of rabies, which come in four stages.
“But senior vets who had been exposed to cases of rabies in the past would be able to tell,” said Dr Vellayan.
He said the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) and the local councils must work together to set-up quarantine pounds for dogs suspected to have been exposed to rabies instead of immediately culling them.
If help is needed, the DVS can also contact the Commonwealth Veterinary Association, which has a rabies investigative centre in a veterinary college in Bengaluru, India.
Dr Vellayan also suggested that the DVS makes use of independent rescuers and rescue groups to vaccinate street dogs against rabies.
Veterinarian and founder of Ipoh Noah’s Ark Dr Ranjit Kaur Mendhir concurred and added rescuers and rescue groups can play a pivotal role in arresting the spread of rabies.
“We are already spending hundreds of ringgit out of our own pockets to neuter and vaccinate street dogs,” said Dr Ranjit.