A fifty-year-old man from Svay Rieng province died on Tuesday night, 19 days after being bitten by a dog in Trapaing Trav village in Kampong Ro district’s Nhor commune.
Kert Chan, 48, the wife of the bitten man Tuon Sarith, told The Post that before the incident, while she was at home, her husband went to a paddy field with their five-year-old niece and sheltered in a hut where he always rests on sunny days.
When they arrived at the hut, they saw a dog asleep on the ground. The dog woke up and bit Sarith’s niece, causing a minor skin injury with no bleeding, Chan said.
Sarith went to help her, but the dog suddenly jumped up and bit him on the right forearm, this time inflicting more serious injuries.
“The dog bit my niece and he helped her. He said the dog had seemed gentle. “They chased the dog to hit it, but it lunged back from about five metres away and bit my husband,” Chan said.
She said that after being bitten, Sarith sought treatment from a traditional Khmer physician but did not go to a doctor for an injection.
“After leaving the traditional physician, he didn’t get any more treatment. Our children told him to see a doctor for injections, but he didn’t go."
“As days went by, he was busy growing rice, spraying rice fertilizer and pumping water. He kept putting off going to see a doctor until he was in serious danger,” she said.
Chan said her husband became feverish and was unable to drink water, and developed a fear of water, fire and the wind.
At this point, she sent her husband to the Svay Teap Referral Hospital where he was injected with a serum and sent to the provincial hospital. That hospital, in turn, sent him on to the capital’s Pasteur Institute in Cambodia.
Because the gate was not yet open, she finally sent her husband to Calmette Hospital next door. When they arrived at Calmette Hospital, doctors told Chan that her husband was in a critical condition and they could not save his life.
She then took her husband back home, arriving there on Tuesday morning. Sarith died that same night.
Chan said the dog was probably carrying rabies. She didn’t know where it came from and it was sleeping in the paddy fields.
Ly Sowath, a doctor at the Pasteur Institute in Cambodia’s Epidemiology and Public Health Unit, could not be reached for comment.
Sovath told The Post in February that the vaccine against rabies is effective if received before being bitten or in the first 24 to 48 hours afterwards.
Doctors ask people to observe the health of the animal that bites them. If the dog does not get sick or die within 10 days, it is a sign that it was not carrying rabies. But anyone suspecting any irregularity should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
According to the Pasteur Institute of Cambodia, the disease is 100 per cent preventable through post-exposure vaccination if provided in time, but it is 100 per cent fatal once symptoms develop.