Hanoi (VNA) – Two Malaysian children have died after contracting rabies, the country’s first such deaths in almost two decades, local officials have said.

A six-year-old girl and her four-year-old brother passed away on July 4 after becoming infected with the disease in a rural area in Sarawak state in the northern part of Borneo island.

They were among three people confirmed to have been infected with rabies. The remaining patient was still in critical condition.

Malaysian authorities have confirmed five villages in Serian district of Sarawak state as having been affected by the outbreak.

By July 4, health teams in Serian had visited 19 villages and carried out checks on over 6,000 people.

Officials have ordered vaccinations for all dogs in the area.

Rabies causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, and is almost always fatal once contracted, according to the World Health Organization.-VNA