Gripped by fear of getting dengue


Ipoh City Council personnel conducting a fogging exercise at Taman Cempaka in Ipoh. – SAIFUL BAHRI/ The Star

DENGUE is not something to trifle with says the Health Ministry.

The number of deaths caused by dengue in the country last year jumped more than 50% compared with 2014.

This, according to the Health Ministry, is the highest number of dengue deaths ever recorded in the country.

And it’s not just those that have been diagnosed with the disease that worry.

For 28-year-old Mohd Afzal Wan Ismail, the mere sight of a mosquito on his body is enough to unnerve him.

“I do not know if it is an Aedes or some other mosquito, but I am worried that it may be carrying all sorts of diseases,” he said.

“I have already had a dengue scare. Fortunately, it was only diarrhoea,” he added.

The software consultant said he experienced diarrhoea, high fever and joint pains and went to a clinic to get himself checked last year.

Stagnant drain water along Lebuh Bunga Raya at Kampung Tersusun Batu 8 near Tanjung Rambutan could become an aedes breeding site.
Stagnant drain water along Lebuh Bunga Raya at Kampung Tersusun Batu 8 near Tanjung Rambutan could become an aedes breeding site.

“The doctor, worried after hearing my symptoms, referred me to a hospital immediately to get a blood test.

“He told me that I might have dengue and it really scared me,” he said.

Mohd Afzal said he had to endure an excruciating two-hour wait for the test result as he expected the worst.

“It turned out that I was just dehydrated and needed lots of fluid in my body. But because of that incident, I went back home and cleaned my lawn and garden,” he said.

“I also made sure there was no stagnant water in the drains or pots around my house. Prevention is better than cure,” said Afzal, who is from Taman Cempaka, Ipoh.

Last year, 336 people, an average of 28 people a month, died from dengue compared to 215 in 2014, a rise of 56.3%.

There was also an increase of 11.2% in the number of dengue cases last year to 120,836, up from 108,698 in 2014.

The ministry’s data also showed there are 145 dengue hotspots in the country, with Selangor having the highest number of hotspots at 107.

Kinta District Health Department staff distributing information flyers on the danger of dengue fever to a passers-by near their mobile information centre at Kampung Datuk Ahmad Said Tambahan 2 in Manjoi. – filepix
Kinta District Health Department staff distributing information flyers on the danger of dengue fever to a passers-by near their mobile information centre at Kampung Datuk Ahmad Said Tambahan 2 in Manjoi. – filepix

Other hotspots included Johor with 23, Perak (nine), and Penang (three), while Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan and Sabah have one each.

Medical Assistant N. Kumar, 25, said he once handled eight cases in a day and it was not the “best feeling the world” to see the patient going through the symptoms of dengue.

“The joint pains, not being able to eat food properly and being constantly bedridden –obody likes that feeling.

“I can only ask the patients to increase their fluid intake as they will always be dehydrated because of the disease,” he said.

He also advised people to see a doctor immediately if the symptoms worsens as waiting could be fatal.

“Do not wait till the next day. A person’s platelet count may drop rapidly, depending on the individual. It can get nasty if not monitored,” he said.

Kumar said Manjoi, Jelapang, Bercham, Tanjung Rambutan and Buntong are major hotspot areas and there has been an increase in foreign workers going to clinics with dengue-like symptoms.

“Most of them live in areas with to poor hygiene, one of the factors that contribute to the breeding of mosquitoes.

“All this must be rectified if we want to reduce the number of dengue cases,” he said.

“People are advised to check their environment constantly as it should be clean and they should ensure there is no stagnant water in any containers or flowerpots,” he added.

IT consultant JY Lau, 35, can attest that it is torture to be diagnosed with dengue, having gone down to the disease three times already.

“I felt weak. The whole body just don’t feel right and healthy.

Besides clogged drains, an illegal dumping site at Lebuh Bunga Raya at Kampung Tersusun Batu 8 near Tanjung Rambutan poses a danger to the residents.
Besides clogged drains, an illegal dumping site at Lebuh Bunga Raya at Kampung Tersusun Batu 8 near Tanjung Rambutan poses a danger to the residents.

“Whenever I feel like I am having a fever, I will be worried and go to see a doctor immediately,” he said.

“I guess I am sort of traumatised by these experiences,” he added.

Lau said he is always keeping his home clean to ensure there is no stagnant water within the premises.

“While I don’t have control over the cleanliness of premises other than my home, I am doing what I can to protect my family from being a victim,” said the father of one.

Pasir Pinji assemblyman Howard Lee said he recently visited Kampung Pasir Puteh and found a “mini landfill” there along a road between the Zainal Abidin Mosque and Kuan Woh Yuen.

He said the conditions there are dire as the area has become infested with mosquito breeding grounds.

“It’s unfortunate that the residents, especially children in the area have to face this daily.

“The place is also smelly as residents tend to set fire to the illegally dumped rubbish in a futile bid to rid it of mosquitoes and other pests,” he said.

“I urge the Ipoh City Council to look into the matter,” he added.

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