PUTRAJAYA, Jan 22 – A total 753 suspected cases of leptospirosis have been detected in flood-hit states with 126 people confirmed to be suffering from the disease. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said two of them were volunteers that were in the states to help the flood victims, emphasising the importance of precautionary measures.
He added that although no deaths had been reported from leptospirosis, also dubbed as rat’s urine disease, the rise in the numbers of those infected were worrying. “Kelantan recorded the highest number of leptospirosis cases with 538 reported and 62 confirmed cases. This is followed by Terengganu with 28 people confirmed to be suffering from the disease, Perak with 22 and Pahang with 14.”
He also noted the increase in another infectious disease called melioidosis, with 20 confirmed victims. Melioidosis, according to Subramaniam, is caused by bacteria that lives in the surface of water and land. “We have asked for safety measures to be implemented, but when it involves civilians, it is not that easy. Hence, we will increase our effort to create awareness through the media and health education.
“This disease can spread when flood victims clean muddy houses or surroundings. That is why it is important that they use boots and masks when they are doing any clean-up works,” Dr Subramaniam told reporters at the ministry here today. He added that although the ministry was prepared to contain infectious diseases, problems occurred when flood victims leave relief centres and head home.
This was due to the lack of clean water supply, forcing some to resort to using water kept in tanks and even the rivers, said Subramaniam, who claimed that he had seen such incidences first hand. “We advise them to practise high level of cleanliness, especially in the preparation of food and water.
“Consume food that has been properly cooked and eat them immediately instead of leaving the food out in the open for hours.” On other diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, acute gastroenteritis and acute respiratory infection among others, he said they have not registered any increase since Jan 9. This, Subramaniam attributed to the closure of flood relief centres where many people crammed up in an enclosed space allowed for diseases to spread faster.