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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Penang continues to cull stray dogs, open to mass inoculation once vaccines arrive

WVS chief executive officer Dr Luke Gamble has pledged to bring vaccines for rabies to Penang. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, September 29, 2015.WVS chief executive officer Dr Luke Gamble has pledged to bring vaccines for rabies to Penang. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, September 29, 2015.
Culling of stray dogs continues in Penang but the state government says it is open towards mass vaccination to combat the rabies outbreak and has agreed to collaborate with international organisation Worldwide Veterinary Services (WVS).
WVS chief executive officer Dr Luke Gamble, whose programme Mission Rabies has been implemented in several countries battling with rabies, met with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and the state exco, as well as officers from the Veterinary Services Department (DVS) this afternoon to brief them about mass vaccination of strays to fight the epidemic.
Lim told reporters after a two-hour meeting that the state was interested in mass vaccination, but implementing it would depend on how fast rabies vaccines could arrive in Penang.
"But that will take some three to six months. Until we are ready to start, the state will have to proceed with the present policy but it will be conducted in a humane manner."
Penang has been culling stray dogs and Lim said the number of case of strays biting humans had increased to 90.
"We don't know whether the dogs that bite the people had rabies or not. So far, we have 90 cases like that. That is why we have to proceed.
"Dr Gamble also agrees that human lives are more important, and in that spirit we are compelled to adopt this approach," said Lim, who has come under fire from social media users and animal lovers over the state's policy of culling strays.
Lim also gave assurance that household pets would not be put to sleep if they were caught outdoors without their owners, but if any pet was suspected of being rabid, DVS could remove the animals from their owners for quarantine.
Meanwhile, Dr Gamble pledged to bring 40,000 sponsored doses, worth some £400,000 (more than RM2.7 million), to Penang but it would be subject to approval by federal authority DVS.
"We can bring 40,000 vaccines and hopefully in six months, we will be able to vaccinate 70% of all dogs in Penang."
DVS senior chief assistant director of the Biosecurity and SPS Management Division Dr Rozanah Asmah Abd Samad (pic) said a meeting was being arranged for Dr Gamble, who had just flown in from London, to meet the director-general of the department.
She also said it normally took about three months for the department to evaluate and approve the import of vaccines but since it was an emergency, they were working out on shortening the timeframe to one month.
Asked if DVS would consider the mass vaccination approach in Perlis and Kedah, Dr Rozanah said the focus now was using Penang for a pilot project.
She said Perlis and Kedah were under different governments and the decision was up to the respective states.
In the meantime, Penang government have ordered 5,000 vaccines and DVS have ordered 750. The doses by DVS are expected to reach Penang this Friday.
As of yesterday, Penang has killed 883 strays and vaccinated 431 dogs.
- TMI

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