PETRA JAYA: The federal government has been urged to provide allocations to upgrade laboratory facilities in Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) to help combat the spread of rabies. State Housing and Public Health Assistant Minister Dr Annuar Rapaee said the move would boost the research and development capabilities at Unimas, and enable Sarawakians health authorities to send samples of suspected rabies-infected animals to a laboratory located in the state. Animal samples are currently being sent to the Veterinary Research Institute in Ipoh, Perak, which requires about five days to get the result. "We want the federal government to upgrade the facilities and system at the (Unimas) laboratory so that we can conduct tests for dog samples within Sarawak,” Dr Anuuar told the state assembly today (Wednesday). He said that Unimas has been conducting lab test from animal samples but these have yet to be recognised by the authorities and international bodies. When replying to a question from See Chee How (PKR-Batu Lintang), he said a total of 33 locations in Sarawak were declared as rabies-affected areas, with the biggest concentration being in the division of Serian which borders Kalimantan, Indonesia. Dr Annuar said there are four dog bite clinics set up in hospitals and health clinics in Sarawak to diagnose, treat and monitor the disease. The outbreak of rabies was first detected in Serian in July last year and claimed 10 lives.
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