Dengue Fever Hits Hard
May 27, 2010
By, New Jo-Lyn
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is facing a dangerous health situation due to the dengue epidemic with 834 cases and two deaths reported last week alone, according to the Ministry of Health.
The total number of cases that have been reported from the beginning of this year is 18, 815, showing a 10 percent decrease from the 20, 974 cases that were reported for the same duration in 2009.
“The current 34 dengue hotspots are located in Johor, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, and especially Kuala Lumpur and Selangor where urbanisation and abandoned projects provide breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes,” said Health Ministry Director General Tan Sri Ismail Merican.
According to the Health Ministry’s Disease Control Division, Selangor holds the record for the highest number of cases at 1,370 between Jan 1 and 23. This is followed by Sarawak with 645 cases, Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya with 246, Johor with 166 cases.
The ministry continues its proactive measures to restrain the epidemic by increasing public awareness. So far 705 clean-up activities have been conducted, more than a thousand talks given, and nearly 2 million factsheets have been distributed throughout the nation.
The Health Ministry also commenced fogging to kill mosquitoes and larviciding to destroy Aedes larvae. However the local authorities met with resistance from some house owners who would not allow them to enter their residences, while some were not home during the day.
He warned that the government will fine households up to RM100 and organisations RM300 each time they refuse to allow fogging in their premises. People are urged to ensure that their homes, schools, and places of work are kept clean and free of contained water.
Though the ministry is carrying out these disease control measures many are still not aware of the risks of allowing mosquitoes to breed in their residences. “It comes back to the public’s awareness about keeping their surroundings clean to prevent the mosquitoes from breeding,” said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin.
Under the Destruction of Disease Bearing Insects Act, those found to be breeding Aedes mosquitoes will be slapped with a RM500 compound for each site, and a possible fine or even a jail sentence.
Datuk Rosnah said the rise in fatalities is caused by circumstances where first-time dengue survivors became infected with the disease a second time and infected people who delayed getting medical treatment. “There is no vaccine yet for dengue and there is no medicine to overcome the disease,” she said.
The Ministry of Health claims it has not received any reports on dengue cases from schools throughout Malaysia. Schools and Parent-Teacher Associations are urged to organise gotong-royongs at least once a week to clean up school compounds.
Lim Kit Siang of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) commented that he was unimpressed with Health Minister, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai’s “indifferent” and “irresponsible” remark on taking dengue cases seriously when the numbers have doubled since the last year. “Malaysia needs a real war and not a ‘phoney war’ waged by spinmeisters,” he said.
34-year-old personal assistant Mahani Hashim who recovered from dengue fever has become more vigilant over epidemic and inspects every crevice inside and outside her house. “Now I spray every corner with aerosol in case there are any mosquitoes hiding and throw away stagnant water. I don’t want to get dengue again,” she said.
Dengue fever and Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) are acute febrile diseases which usually strike in tropical countries. The diseases can be fatal and are transmitted by the black and white Aedes mosquito.
Information on Dengue Fever and Dengue haemorrhagic fever
- Dengue Fever and Dengue haemorrhagic fever is an infection of four known flavivirus transmitted by the black and white Aedes mosquito that causes severe flu-like illness.
- Worldwide incidences have recently risen and approximately 40 percent of the world’s population is at risk of infection.
- The Aedes mosquito is known to breed in urban and semi-urban areas where pollution is higher, and in tropical and sub-tropical climates.
Signs and symptoms
- Symptoms include severe headaches, muscle and joint aches (myalgias and arthralgias), and fever.
- Another symptom is bright red rashes that appear first on the lower limbs and chest, eventually spreading over most of the body.
- Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, and nausea can occur.
- No vaccine or medicine has been developed yet to overcome the virus but there are many ongoing testings.
- It is crucial to execute timely supportive therapy to manage shock as a result of bleeding.
- There must to be careful monitoring of vital signs during the critical period of two to seven days of fever.
- Drinking more fluids is necessary to prevent dehydration.
- The spread of dengue flavivirus is primarily controlled through fogging (adult mosquito control) and larviciding (larvae control).
- Aedes mosquitoes breed in collected water. Draining the water or larvicide treatment is recommended.
- Use insect repellent and mosquito nets to avoid being bitten.
- A transgenic strain of Aedes aegypti was recently developed which produces females that are flightless so they are unable to mate or bite.