Deadly rat urine threat on the rise

The Gunung Pulai recreational forest in Kulai was closed for two weeks after an 18-year-old boy who visited the site died from lepto-spirosis in May. — filepic

JOHOR BARU: Johor has recorded a spike in leptospirosis (rat urine disease) cases with 228 as of this month compared with 205 in 2016, said state health, environment, information and education committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat.

Johor Baru has the highest number of leptospirosis cases this year with 55 reported, followed by Segamat with 37 cases and 30 in Kluang.

There were 13 deaths this year compared to nine recorded last year, said Ayub.

Residents should ensure their premises are clean and tidy to help prevent leptospirosis. – filepic

Residents should ensure their premises are clean and tidy to help prevent leptospirosis. – filepic

He said there were 68 cases of leptospirosis in Johor in 2012, with 63 in 2013, 388 in 2014, 306 in 2015 and 205 in 2016.

Ayub said apart from floods, leptospirosis could also spread due to unhygienic surroundings of recreational forests or parks such as waterfalls, ponds and lakes.

The lackadaisical attitude of visitors who dirtied recreational forests or parks made the places perfect breeding grounds for rodents, he said.

Ayub said although there were notice boards requesting visitors to keep the places clean, they continued to litter.

“Residents in housing estates as well as hawkers and visitors to our recreational parks should not dump their rubbish and food waste into monsoon drains and waterways,” said Ayub.

“Do not blame the authorities if you are exposed to the dangerous disease,” he added.

The symptoms of leptospirosis include stomach ache, flu and fever. If left untreated, it could eventually lead to organ failure and death.

He said apart from leptospirosis, the State Health Department also monitored post-flood diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dengue and melioidosis.

Melioidosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called bukholderia pseudomallei which is found in contaminated water and spread to humans and animals through direct contact with the contaminated source.

Public hospitals in Johor are ready and well-prepared in case the number of flood victims increase drastically, added Ayub.

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