Rabies reaction


I spoke to a former senior officer of the Penang Veterinary Department about the rabies cases in Penang and these are the notes from my conversation with him:

Rabies is a serious issue. The last major incident on the mainland was around 1978 while Penang Island has been rabies free for a long time.

Endemic area: Border area with Thailand. Possible causes of current situation: infected dogs brought in from across the border or dogs running in.

In the present situation, dogs have been tested and a number of people have been bitten in the northern region.

The disease can spread easily.

According to him, the best solution to immediately stop the spread the of the disease:

  • Cull all strays in surrounding areas, which could be a radius of several kilometres
  • Vaccinate all dogs owned by owners and get them tagged.

“It is wrong to say we are waiting for the victims to show signs of the diseases – because by the time the victim shows signs of the disease (incubation period is around 8-10 weeks), it will be too late and there is only a slim chance of the patient being saved.

“So you are not going to wait for the patient to show signs. Anyone bitten should be immediately referred to hospital for the necessary jabs.”

The dogs are put down and their heads are then sent to an institute in Ipoh for testing.

In other countries, which are rabies free, there are strict controls or prohibitions on the import of dogs.

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“Penang Island can be kept rabies-free by the vaccination of strays. But check points must be set up at all entry points to the island to prevent dogs from the mainland being brought to the island.”

This is what the WHO has to say about controlling rabies under normal circumstances:

Controlling rabies in dogs: what to do – what to avoid doing?

Further to recent reports indicating that indiscriminate mass culling of dogs is still used in certain countries as the principal measure to combat dog rabies and prevent associated human rabies the WHO wishes to reiterate the recommendations of the Expert Consultation on Rabies held in Geneva, October 2004 (TRS 931, WHO 2005):

  • Dog destruction alone is not effective in rabies control. There is no evidence that removal of dogs alone has ever had a significant impact on dog population densities or the spread of rabies. In addition, dog removal may be unacceptable to local communities. However, the targeted and humane removal of unvaccinated, ownerless dogs may be effective when used as a supplementary measure to mass vaccination.
  • Mass canine vaccination campaigns have been the most effective measure for controlling canine rabies. High vaccination coverage (70% or higher) can be attained through comprehensive strategies consisting among others of well-designed educational campaigns, intersectoral cooperation, community participation, local commitment in planning and execution.
  • Surveillance of rabies is the basis for any programme of rabies control. Veterinary surveillance of rabies and laboratory submission of reports of suspected animal cases is also essential for management of potential human exposures and for veterinarians to adopt appropriate measures towards animals in contact with a suspected animal case.
  • Efforts should be made to fully incorporate rabies control activities in all levels of the health services, aligning them with other public health programmes such as the Expanded programme on immunization and those for tuberculosis and vector-borne diseases. In this manner, synergies between programmes improve logistical use of human, material and financial resources.
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My comment: I know there are a lot of animal-lovers and groups out there concerned about the culling, and I am one of them, and it is heart-breaking seeing so many of them caught to be put down. Any thoughts or statements by animal welfare groups on alternative measures to culling? Please share below.

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  1. The real pictures of combating rabies by CAT gomen:
    Putrajaya must let global rabies fighters in, says Penang – See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/putrajaya-must-let-global-rabies-fighters-in-says-penang

    Lim Guan Eng appeals to Putrajaya for international veterinary help

    CM: Only Putrajaya can decide outside help for rabies

    Demonising Lim Guan Eng over the culling of stray dogs in rabies-hit Penang

  2. I remember watching the cartoon movie All Dogs Go To Heaven. Hopefully they could rest in peace.

    Actually the real rabies are found on those racist fellows in the 916 red parade given their vulgar antics.

  3. Why blame LGE when his decision is based on recommendation from DVS who are the experts? Why not put the blame on DVS? Is everything political in nature?

    • Someone has to make a decision as it is a state health matter.
      To say it is political is no different from that guy who say maruah bangsa is threatened.
      Otherwise, let someone else do the job & not shift blames.
      Do you have 9 lives? (Hope this is not a political question)

  4. We are humans with brains & common sense.
    We have technology, science & tools to help us.
    We can decide what is right or wrong.
    We can save or kill (any life form) based on our intelligence + heart or based on fears & selfishness.

    Dogs are animals with brains, human empathies (to some degree) but no common sense.
    Dogs have nothing to help themselves evolve as a species.
    Dogs don’t decide but act on animal instinct (almost like knee jerk reaction of humans).
    Dogs can save (a human or even an animal) or kill based on survival instinct or provocation from threats.

    Now, we have what it takes to be human with a heart dealing with nature. Don’t behave with silly knee jerk reaction like an animal in a crisis simply b’cos we feel threatened or lives at stake.

    I once went off-road to Mahang rainforest, Kedah. My group consisted of 1st timers & regular offroaders. We encountered tiger paws (bigger than our hands, 3-5cm deep in the mud, must have weighted over 400 lbs) on our muddy head trail going the same direction all the way. Before going any further, we humans had the knee jerk reaction of fears. “Did anyone bring a rifle, long parangs?” “Let’s go home, forget the trip!” “Weep, weep, weep” It’s reaction of human & sub-human all at the same time!
    Think for a moment: Whose territory were we entering? Was it a man-eater? Why fear when it also wanted to avoid us typical humans known to kill any tiger for no reason or at the spur of the moment of no sense but fear.
    Knee jerk reactions almost always take away the life of living with nature sensibly, whether in the wilderness or in slippery urban settings.
    Now, if you tell me a CAT can also display knee-jerk reaction, I Want To Believe.

    • Brother tunglang, while i appreciate your love for the animals but when this rabies disease is concerned i support nia kong for his swift action. If it were to happen in sg, i can tell you even within one day all wd hv been culled. Like it or not, sg is a super efficient country, it is self evident !!!

      Tunglang, you also can put yourself into the stray’s shoe, someone commented in the social media that he would rather be culled and not suffer the fate of wandering on the street if he happens to be one of the strays (reincarnate).

      My cousin took two strays from the market, spent thousands and at the end, put them to
      sleep to save them the agony of pain as advised by the vet. The vet further advised that
      MOST strays have problems, esp skin diseases.

      Therefore, brother tunglang, be rational and not be too carried away by your emotions. Our emotions can be deceitful too.

      Nia kong is willing to lose his votes but he loves your life too much to let you suffer
      from the dreadful rabies, ok ? For this, i fully support Cat, nia kong!!!

      • With one exception for that rabies condemned Red Eyed … in Red Tee intended to by hook, by crook, by hell’s break loose to cause troubles & property damages to those who sincerely cari-makan in Petaling Street Chinatown.
        Will close my 2 eyes & dull my compassion …
        Anyway, I would encourage more Chinese to sell more Bak Kua (barbecued pork) in Chinatown for a feel good mood.

  5. Why all the talk and no action? NGOs just do it. Round up the stray dogs and fence them up and feed them or love them until the crisis is over and release them into the society. Stray digs are part of Malaysian society even if the stray dog is cute poodle. Unlike ted hair ang mos, Malaysians treat dog and cats differently because bn federal government have misspent money and no money for social welfare program such as public libraries, swimming pools, park with exercise apparatus in each district.

  6. The stray problem is worsened by people who feed the animals. Plastic bags, styrofoam and plastic containers left on the street after feeding further aggravate our dengue problem. What do well fed strays do? Have sex and start propagating. A few months later, you get more stray puppies. Some died of diseases and are left on the road. Do these people bury them? No! The most they do is ring the bell of people living in the area and ask them to help bury these innocent souls. If these people are so kind hearted, please bring the strays back home and look after them properly, instead of creating more strays and letting die prematurely.

  7. Yes, there are alternatives.
    Catch as many as possible , put all under the stipulated quarantine time, vaccination , sterilization , deworming & tags them.
    Look at the logistic / kennel / lab / hardware / personnel cost&time.
    And later release them to where?
    Back to the streets and to suffer all over again?
    And i don’t think there would be a rich Arab willing to “donate” millions to help out.
    Destroying them as humanely as possible is the only answer at this moment.
    In Japan , they uses gas chamber to euthanize dogs and cats.
    What the NGOs and animal lovers can & could do is to ensure that such animals do not suffer anymore.
    Unless out of the blues, millions of US$ “donation” poured in.
    Any better suggestion/s?

  8. There is so much concern over dogs but so little over humans cheated of livelihood, opportunity and even basic safety as a result of policies based on greed and hate. Like the West, the incompetent now blame other countries. It is more distraction propaganda. In the first place, is there any confirmation that the problem is rabies?

    Even more important than vaccinating strays is to reduce their number by spaying them and offering free spaying to dog owners, both on a regular basis.

  9. Human Life or Dog’s Life is more important? Please don’t let the family of a human life suffer because of rabbies. There are too many stray dogs in the state and just because you love dogs, don’t let a family suffer for the rest of their life.

    • Why have you not ask about cats?
      Cats are skin colour-blind when it comes to scratching a human or easily enters a home like cat burglars (compared to a dog).
      The difference between a chicken, a duck & a dog is this:
      the former two are breed for consumption while the later is a pet not meant for the table.
      And a dog can sense a human’s state of mind & emotion & give companionship while a chicken or duck keep on feeding in the coop while you cry a pail of tears for whatever the reasons.

      • Are you sure tunglang ducks and chicken have no emotion ? A friend of mine said his fishes in the tank will all rush to the front whenever he comes home – welcoming him home. And he said, whenever he has a quarrel with his wife, the fishes hide in a corner and are extremely quiet. I find it fascinating !

      • Cats and dogs are delicacies in Vietnam. Tunglang etc should venture into Sapa village with awesome mountain folklore scenery taking vintage train from HCM city, and would return to Belum forest with fresh perspectives.

      • lim, then don’t eat Kentucky Fried Chicken or Roasted Duck or even Roasted Pigs!!!
        Every poultry animal has emotion!!!

      • One big fat Niao Kong you want to eat at Komtar?
        No need to venture far to Saigon!!!

  10. How many dog lives would equate to a human life? Only you can answer this.
    There is no know cure for rabies, there is only one recorded case in the U.S. where a girl survives but doctors are able to duplicate the cure/treatment, look up youtube for the “girl that survived rabies”. People who contacted rabies go though a slow and painful death not to mention the agony of their family members knowing that there is no cure and death is most certain. What if that person is the sole bread winner of the family or the only child or the loving mum ??

  11. Someone commented above that No Strays No Culling. I fully agree. All the genuine or pseudo animal loving NGO out there, why haven’t you taken care of the strays all this while. Stray animals are proofs that your NGO’s have failed or not being genuine.

    • I think not fair to blame strays on the NGOs and welfare groups, which are doing a heroic job with limited resources. Strays are the result of callous or irresponsible owners.

      • NGOs can round up as many stray dogs and keep in few compounds and care for them until the crisis subsided.

      • As I have said, no irresponsible humans, no strays.
        To delight oneself in dog or cat meats is no different from irresponsible pet owners.
        Let Karma decide the next life of those (who kill) to the short & miserable life of a stray dog or cat in Vietnam.

  12. How should i begin? Am a human too, without a single doubt, i love animals !!!

    Dont tell me till some lives have been lost, then you start put down the animals, it will be too late then. Then, this same group of people will point their gun at the chief minister, “what la, you should have culled all the stray dogs in the first place, you cannot wait till lives have been lost, bla bla bla…” Am really too familiar with the human traits…

    Please allow me to relate my good friend’s experience or rather nightmare.

    She lived next to an animal activist at Shamrock Beach, Batu Ferringhi. The neighbour
    kept and still keeping some 10 dogs and more than 2 dozens of cats in the cage, some
    half a dozen or more the neighbour let loose, they roam around in the neighbourhood
    and poo in the neighbours’ gardens and made scratches to the neighbours’ cars. The cats
    also urinate into my friend’s washing machine and cooking rack…

    My friend and her old mother had no choice but to move away as they could not stand
    the noise pollution from the dogs esp in the middle of the night, and the foul smell
    came from the cats’ poop.

    The Pg City Council cant seem to do anything despite numerous and repeated
    complaints. Cant help but to say most useless mbpp !!!

    To all the animal’s lovers out there, please be a responsible animal’s lover !!! Tq

    Yes, to all the so called animal lovers out there, love the animals by all means but please dont be a nuisance to fellow humanbeings.

    • I have not finished yet, one day, my friend’s neighbour, the animal lovers, their dog was dead right in front of my friend’s gate, knocked down by some reckless driver, most probably. And the neighbour took revenge on my friend thinking that my friend had killed their dog.

      So in the middle of the night, the neighbour, the so called animal’s lovers climbed over
      the front dividing wall and put a poop, it could either be human’s or their dog’s right in front of my friend’s main door.

      I have since lost faith in the so called animal’s lovers/activists as what i see is hypocrisy in these people !!!

      The neighbourhood continues to lodge more complaints with the mbpp but to no avail
      !!! Why ???

      • My neighbourhood like to feed the stray dog from 1 female with 2 female puppy few years back to the present about 1 dozen population. During mating period it could be 2 dozen around. This is a nuisance with the noise and the rubbish created during the night. I really don’t understand why when they already have few in their house and yet needs to feed those stray outside? Count my vote in for the culling.

      • lim, don’t be too confident + haughty to the point of sarcasm.
        One day when you are born a dog to a stray bitch, do come to Kuan Yin Temple to crawl for forgiveness.

      • Did any one recalled ever saw a dog crawl for forgiveness in front of Kuan Yin? What I do saw is the caretaker will chase any dog that is trying to enter the temple. Animal is not the same realm as human, why trying to change that? They can live in their own kingdom no need human to feed them.

  13. On the issue of dogs coming in from Thailand, there are no effective controls. Walk into any pet shop or ask any breeder and ask if they have any pedigree dogs from Thailand, they will readily recommend you a few. And I know of at least 2 breeders operating near the border in Kedah. Some of these puppy mills are in pathetic state. There used to be one beside USM in Sg Dua before the new development.

    This state govt under the direction of CM LGE and the advise by his “experts” from MOH and DVS has over reacted and overkilled more than a thousand healthy adorable dogs and puppies in the state over the last 3 weeks. This callous knee jerk decision was made on the advise from “experts” from our MOH and DVS. Hundreds of healthy dogs in inner city Georgetown and Tg Bungah were culled, more than 30 km away from the single reported rabies case in Balik Pulau. This despite recommendations by international rabies experts from WHO and other subject expert bodies that culling should only be limited to a few kilometres from the infected area. The state govt was adamant in its decision to conduct a state wide mass culling and dismissed assistance from international volunteers and experts.

    • HK has bird flu and cullings on imports were carried out and live poultry was banned for months. Over reaction or take risks up to you to think

    • If you understand why there are street children or illegitimate children, you will not simply point at the stray dogs.
      More so when most of these strays are domesticated animals in our midst & most likely once loved sky-high by their previous owners like their own children.
      Where there are people, there will be strays, like it or not. Until we have true love & responsibility for our pets (as we do to our children), when these pets are sick, old or turning ugly, some of the pet owners will have no qualms but throw them into the streets – thus we have strays. In an environment of ‘free animal sex’ with no contraception or enforced sterilisation, these strays will inevitably increase by the hours. But who cares? Can you preach to these strays to abstain from sex?
      I would put it this way:
      no irresponsible pet owners, no strays, no need for culling when there is no one single stray around.

      I would also like to point out the difference between a cat & a dog as pets.
      In an environment of keeping dogs within a gated compound, inside a cage or on a leash, there is less likely an opportunity for a pet dog to contact with an outsider dog or Alfa Romeo Doggie, infected or on the heat for sex. Have you seen a dog climbing over a gate or a wall or squeeze thro’ a drain hole or window in desperation for an afternoon rendezvous with Ms Doggie?
      As for cats, you seldom keep them in a cage, on a leash (never seen one in my life) or locked in a windowless room. As these felines are so agile, quiet & ‘acrobatic’ as to climb up a wall, walk out of the windows or squeeze thro’ a grill door, pet owners will have difficulties keeping them for a few hours ‘safe’ & ‘celibate’ within their homes. Thus their secret amorous adventures with thy neighbours’ cat felines after slipping away when the back door or window is wide open. Keeping the front gate closed is futile.
      Now, don’t you think the present rabies scare also applies to your slippery amorous cats?
      Think & not be sorry later on.

      This might be helpful for our CAT Gomen to read:
      Nonsurgical fertility control for managing free-roaming dog populations:
      A review of products and criteria for field applications

  14. There could be other reasons. You mention there could be other means. What are they? Ngos and many like yang just complain. If someone you know died from rabies, would you still say no culling or as usual hijack into racist, religion issue by dumno and BN?

  15. Culling of dogs is like Nazi’s Jews extermination.
    Yes, it will effectively reduce the number of possible infection carriers.
    But then, dogs are also flesh & blood intelligent animals which are more close to humans than any known animals. Shouldn’t we be more caring for them?
    Can we possibly round up stray dogs & cats? & one by one quarantine to check for possible infection? Then only cull the ones which are found infected by rabies. We have a big space in Pesta site for such a purpose. Get the NGOs & animal lovers to help in such an effort to save our dogs & cats?, not exterminate them.

    CAT, pls love dogs.

    • tunglang, cat said between human’s safety and rabies, he has only one option ie to choose the former even to lose votes. Never think cat is happy to put down the lives of the dogs !!!

      In situation like this, tunglang, we have to be sensible, mature, rational and be practical, and not being emotional like the many so called animal lovers !!!

      • There are workable solutions, not solely by culling.
        Pet lovers, animal haters, whosoever. The issue here is saving animal lives while combating rabies.
        We humans are the culprits for the many strays, cats included.
        So, to kill dogs or even cats is not a human way too treat our animal companions.
        When a dog saves a human life, we praise until heaven’s door.
        But when disease strikes, we poo-poo the poor canine, many of which are not even carrier of rabies.

        Commonsense of survival: when all the dogs are culled & the rabies still persists, cats will be next unless cats are more valued than humans. Go ask Niao Kong’s conscience.

  16. It is best to cull the strays now before the situation gets any worse .
    When chickens are culled did any local animal lovers spoke up?
    Not just the canines that we should be wary of.
    Cats can get rabies as well.
    Watch out for the felines too.
    And on a more humorous side, did we or did not we saw a few thousand people with rabies symptoms on Sept the 16th?

  17. Hi Anil, I hope you would talk to the NGOs like 4 Paws, Penang Hope of Strays and SOS who are against the culling too. What I failed to understand is why in such a hurry to kill ALL strays. They claimed to have submitted a referendum to the 28th floor. Why didn’t they review it? Why still insists on culling when there are other alternatives. Only when more and more people came out to speak against it that he finally agreed to meet with these NGOs. Again he blamed it on his team of experts and not taking up the responsibility for his orders. I sure hope he does not see blood in his dreams.


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