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Two children die of rabies in Sarawak

KUALA LUMPUR Two Malaysian children have died after contracting rabies, the country's first such deaths in almost two decades, officials said yesterday.

A six-year-old girl and her four-year-old brother died on Tuesday after becoming infected with the disease in a rural area in Sarawak.

They were among three people confirmed to have been infected with rabies, which in most cases is transmitted via dog bites, according to Sarawak's Local Government and Housing Minister Sim Kui Hian.

He said: "Two of the three confirmed cases... were pronounced dead. They were diagnosed to be brain dead and the parents have agreed for the life support to be withdrawn."

He said the other patient was "critically ill".

Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Malaysia's director general of health, told AFP that the cases were the first rabies-related deaths in the country in almost 20 years.

Five villages in the Serian district of Sarawak state, which borders the Indonesian part of Borneo, are confirmed as having been affected by the outbreak.

Dr Sim said health teams in Serian had visited 19 villages as of Tuesday and carried out checks on over 6,000 people. - AFP

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