Cramped quarters raise risk

Spot check: Petaling District Health Department entomologist Khadijah Khairuddin taking a sample of the mosquito larvae while Dr Subramaniam looks on.

UNKEMPT premises rented by university students and their cramped living condition have been blamed as contributing factors in the rise in dengue cases.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said many of these students share rooms to minimise their cost of living, with up to 20 students staying in one double-storey house.

“We found that these students do not clean their compounds regularly, including cutting the grass and clearing water containers in the house to prevent mosquitoes breeding in those places,” he said.

He said the dengue epidemic would spread easily in such prevalent living conditions. He was speaking to reporters after visiting the Section 7 residential area in Shah Alam, where he found many students living.

Shah Alam is one of the areas that recorded high incidence of dengue.

During its spot-checks, Selangor Health Department found mosquito larvae in the backyard of many houses that were occupied by students enrolled at universities nearby.

Dr Subramaniam urged the students to clean up their house compound because this epidemic not only affected them but also their neighbours and surrounding community.

“In addition, local councils in Selangor should enforce stern action against construction sites and owners of premises where mosquito larvae are found.

“They (local councils) must act fast and stop the epidemic from spreading any further,” he said.

He disclosed that the Health Ministry had conducted checks on 118 construction sites and had issued summonses to 95 of them besides taking legal action where required.

There are 222 dengue hotspots in the country and Selangor recorded the highest number of hotspots.

From January to March 21, Selangor had 180 dengue hotspots. Up to March 23, Selangor recorded 23 deaths with 12,299 cases reported, which was also the highest number nationwide for the period.

The total number of deaths from dengue in Malaysia between January and March 23 is 55.

Perak has the second highest figures at 32 hotspots and 94 reported cases followed by Sabah with eight hotspots and 25 cases.

Shah Alam City Council Communica-tions deputy director Shahrin Ahmad said four dengue-related deaths had been reported in the city this year, ending March.

“There were 1,278 cases in February but none of them were dengue haemorrhagic fever,” he said at the March full board meeting yesterday.

Among the measures taken to address the spike in dengue numbers, are weekly fogging by the Vector Control Unit, he said.

This involves four contractors using thermal fogging machines, and two mobile Ultra Low Volume (ULV) fogging machines that cover more than a 400m radius.

In February, 18,979 premises were fogged using the thermal machines, while 32,220 premises were fogged using the ULV machines.

The council inspected 3,844 premises, with 68 premises found to be positive as dengue breeding grounds within the same month.

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