TANGKAK: The two girls in Tanah Merah in Kelantan who allegedly died from the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) virus actually succumbed to dengue and bacterial meningitis, said Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek.
Test results released yesterday showed their deaths had nothing to do with the JE virus, he said here.
“I am puzzled as to how the Kelantan Health Department director could issue a statement that the state could have a JE outbreak when the test results on the two deaths were only concluded today (Thurs-day).
“We want the people in Tanah Merah to know that the ministry has taken measures to monitor a possible JE outbreak in their area,” he said before attending a Ledang MCA division Chinese New Year dinner here.
Two 13-year-old schoolgirls – Siti Mardiana Mohd Romli and Nasnira Akmar Hussin – were until recently believed to have succumbed to the JE virus.
Siti Mardiana's father, Mohd Romli Mohd Zaid, 34, and five-year-old brother Mohd Alwi, are suspected JE cases and have been warded at the Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital in Tanah Merah.
Another patient, 27-year-old Noorhayati Awang, had reportedly been confirmed as being infected by the JE virus.
Two virologists – one from the Institute of Medical Research and another from the National Public Health Institute – have arrived in Kota Baru to help the state health authorities determine if the JE virus had re-emerged in the state. JE was last reported in Kelantan in 1995.
Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Shafie Ooyub, who accompanied them, said their main task was to provide technical expertise and to analyse the data collected.
He added that they would determine if the five recent cases here were JE-related.
In another development, forest rangers have been deployed in Tanah Merah to track down wild boars suspected of being JE carriers.
State Veterinary Services department director Dr Idris Kadir said blood samples had been taken from animals around the area.
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