Malaysia: Numbers of dengue cases to rise further when El Nino hits

LOH FOON FONG The Star 12 Jan 16;

PETALING JAYA: If last year was bad, the dengue problem could be far worse this year. The number of cases has been soaring since November, with a whopping 3,337 cases on the first week of this year alone.

That is 1,000 cases more than the average of 2,300 cases per week last year.

The last week of December saw 2,511 cases reported with four deaths.

On top of these high numbers, the Health Ministry has warned that the El Nino effect could cause a 50% spike.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry announced on Jan 8 that the El Nino phenomena that brings hot and dry weather, is expected to hit the country from the end of January to March, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

“With the hot weather, the life cycle of Aedes mosquitoes, from eggs to adulthood will be shortened to seven days and this will increase the mosquito population during the period,” he said in a press statement yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham also said the high temperatures would cause mosquitoes to be active and increase the frequency of biting and speed up the spread of virus.

He reminded people who stock up water during the hot season to ensure there were no mosquitoes breeding.

“This dengue issue needs to be tackled through more creative, innovative, comprehensive and integrated methods,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

He said the ministry hoped that all ministries, agencies and NGOs as well as the society, would take proactive preventive measures.

Dr Noor Hisham said that from Jan 3 to 9, the number of dengue cases reported had been showing an upward trend since early November.

The increasing cases involved 13 states except Kedah and Labuan.

The number of outbreak locations was higher, 1,044 compared with 907 the week before and the number of hotspots increased from 145 to 161 involving Selangor (122), Johor (22), Perak (8), Penang (4), Sabah (2), Negri Sembilan (2) and the Federal Territory (1).

Last year, 120,836 dengue cases had been reported, an increase of 11.2% or 12,138 cases compared with 108,698 cases in 2014.

Dr Noor Hisham said the number of deaths also increased from 215 in 2014 to 336 last year, an increase of 56%.

The main reasons for the continued increasing numbers were the unhygienic environment, people throwing rubbish indiscriminately and lack of garbage management, he said.

People movement, high population and rapid urbanisation had also contributed to the increase, he said.

Hot spell spells Aedes danger
The Star 12 Jan 16;

PETALING JAYA: The current hot spell can bring dehydration and heatstroke. And it can also bring the Aedes mosquito into your home.

So, it is important that breeding grounds are eliminated, says Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said the dry spell can cause a spike in vector and water-borne diseases.

Extreme hot weather can cause people to feel fatigued, besides causing dehydration and heatstroke.

Dr Noor Hisham said there could also be related problems such as food contamination, and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI), asthma and conjunctivitis.

He said senior citizens and children were at high risk of contracting such illnesses.

He advised the public to drink enough water, limit outdoor activities and wear hats or carry an umbrella to be protected from the sun.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili called on all water concessionaires to closely monitor water levels at dams.

As of now, he said there was no report of a water supply shortage anywhere in the peninsula and Labuan.

Dr Ongkili said the water rationing in some areas in Johor Baru was due to a lack of rain at the Sungai Lebam and Sungai Layang catchment areas last year, and failure to manage the water resources.

Last week, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said peninsular Malaysia, Limbang and Miri in Sarawak, and Sabah would experience hot and dry weather until March.

The weather condition is a result of the El Nino phenomenon, which is expected to reduce rainfall by between 20% and 60% and cause temperatures to rise between 0.5°C and 2°C.

Bracing for dengue spike
The Star 13 Jan 15;

JOHOR BARU: Various states have stepped up their vigilance against the worsening dengue menace by directing hospitals to brace for the expected spike in cases and taking action to curb the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes.

Johor Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat wants the two main public hospitals here – the Sultanah Aminah Hospital and Sultan Ismail Hospital Pandan – to have contingency plans to treat dengue patients.

“Both hospitals recorded an increase of 5% to 10% in dengue admissions last year. The figure is likely to go up this year.

“Last year, our wards were full and we had to place extra beds in the corridors of the two hospitals to treat patients,” said Ayub.

He said 513 cases were recorded from Jan 1 to 9 in the state – compared to 128 cases for the same period last year – with some 80% of the cases coming from the Johor Baru district.

There were 15,000 dengue cases in the state last year, with 52 deaths recorded.

He said the state authorities would beef up its enforcement operations at construction sites, which had been identified as the main breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes.

In MALACCA, the state is bracing for an increase, especially in Melaka Tengah.

The number has increased by 52% with 93 cases recorded between Jan 3 and 11, compared with the same period last year.

State Health Department director Datuk Dr Ghazali Othman urged patients to seek treatment early.

“We expect a rise in the number of cases because of the warmer-than-usual weather caused by the El Nino effects,” he said.

Dr Ghazali said if the pattern continued, his medical team would be in for a tough time.

“We need to look into remedial measures. But our best option is to destroy breeding grounds at source. This needs everybody’s cooperation, especially residents from the Melaka Tengah district,” he said.

Dr Ghazali noted that although the three hospitals in the state could still manage the swelling number of patients, there was a need for a contingency plan should the figures soar beyond capacity.

In IPOH, the state has called upon the public to be its “agents” to catch litterbugs who are indiscriminately creating dump sites.

Perak Health Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said illegal dump sites were among several factors that promoted the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes.

“There are some 186 tonnes of garbage caused by illegal dump sites. We hope the people can become our agents and take photographs of those responsible,” he said after chairing an anti-dengue meeting yesterday.

“We managed to reduce the number of hotspots from 40 to four last year but the number has increased again.”

As of Jan 9, there were 126 dengue cases recorded, compared to 349 cases in the same period last year.

“Despite the drop, we will continue to combat the menace,” he added.

In KUALA TERENGGANU, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abd Rahman has directed an integrated gotong-royong be held throughout the state on Saturday to find and destroy Aedes mosquito-breeding grounds.

“It is also to identify suitable methods of garbage disposal because most of the localities affected by the epidemic are inaccessible to garbage trucks,” he told reporters after a dinner on Monday.

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