Friday, December 4, 2009

Malaysian Health Ministry issues nationwide dengue alert

By Loh Foon Fong & Muguntan Vanar
PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has announced a nationwide dengue alert following an increase of 99 reported dengue cases within a week with two deaths in Malacca and one in Penang.

Deputy health director-general Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said that 819 cases were reported last week (Nov 15 to 21) compared with 720 the week before (Nov 8 to 14).

“We have issued a dengue alert to state health directors and doctors to keep a look out for the cases,” he said.

The total number of reported cases for this year until last week was 36,514 with 78 deaths compared with 41,034 and 90 deaths last year.

Dr Hasan said if the public did not take the necessary action to remove aedes breeding sites, the number of cases could double next month.

Explaning that the drastic increase in dengue cases was due to the rainy season, he said: “Despite our awareness programme, the response from the public has not been encouraging.”

Speaking at a dialogue session on 1Malaysia Fight Against Dengue yesterday, Dr Hasan said the ministry had carried out surveys and found that people were aware of where and how aedes breeds in the house and outside but most of them neglected to check on those areas.

“They tend to think that it’s the Government’s responsibility, but we need cooperation from the people,” he said.

In the last three months, Sarawak recorded the highest number of increase with 331 cases last week, making it a total of 2,847 cases this year.

In total, Selangor recorded the highest number of cases in the country at 16,984.

Dr Hasan said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had also placed the country on avian influenza alert following some reported cases in neighbouring countries.

There were no cases recorded in Malaysia and the Veterinary Services Department was monitoring the situation throughout the country while the ministry exchanged information with other countries in Asean as well as with the WHO.

Universiti Malaya medical microbiology department professor Dr S. Shamala Devi, who also spoke at the dialogue, said that people might get both Influenza A(H1N1) and avian influenza at the same time if their immune system was weakened.

In Kota Kinabalu, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said there were 199 cholera cases as of yesterday in the two affected states – Terengganu (185) and Kelantan (14).

She said health officials were now using different antibiotics to treat patients following the detection of a new strain of cholera in Thailand.

“The two states are close to Thailand. We believe that it is due to water contamination,” she said, adding that the 17 cholera cases detected in Sabah earlier this month was due to the “usual” strain found in the country.

Rosnah said that the cholera patients in Terengganu and Kelantan were not from relief centres but other areas.

“Our officers are closely monitoring the health situation at the flood relief centres,” she said.

The first case of cholera was detected in Terengganu earlier this month.

One person has died from it.

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