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Published: Sunday August 18, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday August 18, 2013 MYT 2:02:20 PM

Sibu MP warns health authorities against taking CRE superbug lightly

SIBU: The authorities have been urged not to take the superbug Carbapenem-Resistant Entero- bacteriaceae (CRE) lightly because it is an infectious killer disease, which still has no cure.

“If it were to spread to the community, it could be difficult to control,” Sibu MP Oscar Ling said in a press conference yesterday morning.

Ling, who is a pharmacist by training, said he was unhappy with the way the authorities handled the disease by first denying its outbreak and then confirming that two persons had died of it out of a total of 10 deaths — nine reported at Sibu Hospital and one at Sarawak General Hospital.

“As disclosed by Local Government and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh on Friday, there were 38 cases, including 31 confirmed ones at Sibu Hospital this year. I consider this a very serious case,” Ling reiterated, adding that there were only 18 cases with seven deaths reported in the United States and 10 cases in Melbourne, Australia with no death.

He stressed that the revelation of CRE by DAP’s Bukit Assek assemblyman Wong Ho Leng on Thursday was not intended to create fear, but was a warning for the authorities and the people to take the necessary precautions.

“I will find out more from the relevant authorities when I visit Sibu Hospital tomorrow (Monday),” Ling said.

In another development, Ho Leng questioned why state Health director Datuk Dr Zulkifli Jantan issued in two days two different statements on the CRE outbreak at Sibu Hospital.

“In the first statement, it was a blanket denial of any outbreak. In his second statement, Dr Zukifli confirmed that there were nine deaths and 26 infections in Sibu Hospital while hospitals in other divisions have been mercifully spared.

“On the other hand, Soon Koh said that there were 10 deaths and 31 infections. These include the nine deaths in Sibu and one in Kuching General Hospital.

“Why should Soon Koh’s statistics be different from that of the state Health director’s?”, Ho Leng asked.

He also noted that the minister was very prone to accusing DAP of not checking with the relevant sources.

“Let me impress upon the minister that this confirmation of nine deaths in Sibu has exonerated or vindicated me from the allegation of making baseless accusation.

“Would Soon Koh confirm that the state Health director has reported to him of the outbreak before this? If so, why are his figures different from that of the director’s?”

Ho Leng further said the Health Minister suffered a similar syndrome in 1997 in respect of the Coxsackie E71 outbreak here.

He claimed that had the Federal Government paid any attention to his exposure on Coxsackie E71, the death of innocent children might not have increased to 31.

Ho Leng urged the Federal and state governments not to sweep the issue under the carpet but be fully accountable and explain the status of CRE outbreak.

In respect of the two deaths confirmed to be due to the CRE superbug, Ho Leng said: “One life lost is one too many. This is especially so when the outbreak seems to suggest that half of the infected people would succumb to the complications caused by the infection. I ask the Government to be vigilant and responsible and not to have a lackadaisical attitude towards people’s lives.”

Tags / Keywords: Health, East Malaysia

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