Worrying rise in dengue cases

With an alarming increase in dengue-related deaths in Selangor, the Health Ministry has identified 18 ‘outbreak’ spots in the state.

With an alarming increase in dengue-related deaths in Selangor, the Health Ministry has identified 18 ‘outbreak’ spots in the state.

DENGUE haemorrhagic fever has claimed 14 lives in Selangor as of the first week of October this year and the authorities are worried.

With 11,788 confirmed dengue cases as of Saturday last week, state health officials are worried more will be affected by the disease.

The figure is also alarming as it makes up more than half of the 22,925 confirmed cases reported nationwide.

Based on the figures, Selangor is recording 41 confirmed cases daily, or 287 cases a week, taxing Government hospitals in the state.

Health authorities in all nine districts — Gombak, Hulu Langat, Hulu Selangor, Klang, Kuala Langat, Kuala Selangor, Petaling, Sabak Bernam and Sepang — are on alert as certain neighbourhoods have been tagged as outbreak or hot areas.

It is learnt that the Health Ministry has identified 18 hotspots in Selangor.

Battling obstructions: Although the authorities are carrying out fogging, there have been instances where residents did not allow fogging of their premises where dengue fever cases were reported. — filepic

In Petaling, which has 4,392 cases, six deaths have been recorded while Hulu Langat recorded three deaths out of 3,024 cases.

Gombak, Hulu Selangor, Klang, Kuala Langat and Sepang recorded one death each.

When contacted, a Selangor Health Department officer said all nine districts had recorded a total of 11,788 confirmed cases from January until the first week of October this year, which was 4,647 cases more compared to the same period in 2012.

“It is alarming. Figures show that last year we had 7,141 cases until the first week of October and at the end of December 2012, we recorded 9,113 confirmed dengue fever cases.

“However, there have been so many cases until October this year only.

“We fear there will be more cases as some areas are still labelled as outbreak zones,” he said.

Outbreak zones are areas that record many confirmed cases within a given period of time.

Classic symptoms of dengue fever are high fever, headache, body ache (both muscle and bone), weakness, vomiting, sore throat, altered taste sensation, and a centrifugal maculopapular rash, among others.

Due to the unbearable pain, the term breakbone fever is used to describe dengue fever.

Vaccines to fight the fever are not available yet and treatment is limited to intravenous drips.

Those with dengue fever can slip into dengue haemorrhagic fever if their blood platelet count decreases drastically.

When contacted, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) Health and Environment Department (Public Health) I deputy director Dr Abdul Ghalib Sulaiman said in areas with a high number of dengue cases recorded, the public should take the necessary measures like keeping their premises clean to eliminate Aedes mosquito breeding grounds.

“Clean inside as well as your surroundings. Spend 10-minutes a week to ensure empty containers are not filled with water and become Aedes mosquito breeding sites.

“Most of the time, they breed in discarded or unwanted items left lying about,” he said.

Dr Abdul Ghalib said everyone must be committed to fighting the menace.

“Most of the time, it is the people’s indifference that hampers our efforts.

“There have been instances where health officers, conducting checks for larvae, have had the door shut in their faces or not allowed to fog premises where dengue fever cases were reported,” he said.

urban phenomena.......indiscriminate dumping of rubbish have also resulted in dengue outbreak due to retention of clear and stagnant water in bottles and containers after rains.
Clean up act: According to MBPJ, indiscriminate dumping of rubbish at flats and apartments has led to the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes in such places. — filepic

“These sort of incidents are occurring in urban areas, like in Section 12 off Jalan Universiti,” he said, adding that the Health Department had teamed up with residents of Flora Apartments Damansara, PJU 8, Damansara Perdana recently to clean up the area where 34 cases had been recorded.

“At the seven blocks of high-rise low- and medium-cost apartments, we found broken furniture, construction waste, empty plastic bottles and old mattresses discarded indiscriminately, leading to Aedes mosquitoes breeding here.

“We had to clear 10 lorry loads of rubbish from this place alone,” he added.

Dr Abdul Ghalib said a total of 120 residents and 30 MBPJ personnel were involved in the gotong-royong. Zone councillor Suriase Gengiah was also present.

“Fogging was also carried out. Our aim was to educate the people and not just issue compounds,” he said.

“Some think it is our job to keep their premises clean but this is a collective responsibility.

“Also, frequent fogging can result in the Aedes mosquitoes becoming resistant to the chemical and we do not want this to happen.

“We want to make the people accountable for their well-being,” he said, adding that most of the time the breeding ground was in the house compound.

Dr Abdul Ghalib said other areas in the city that were of concern are Desa Mentari (100 cases), Section 12 (24 cases) and Section 1, Taman Carey (16 cases).

“In these urban areas, the problem is complicated as people discard items without thinking of the consequences.

“One cost-effective method is to educate the residents to keep their premises clean in order to help the local council,” he said.

He said from January to September this year, MBPJ had issued 831 compounds.

Meanwhile, until the first week of October this year, dengue fever has claimed 52 lives nationwide.