Numbers of dengue cases to rise further when El Nino hits

PETALING JAYA: If last year was bad, the dengue problem could be far worse this year. The number of cases has been soaring since November, with a whopping 3,337 cases on the first week of this year alone.

That is 1,000 cases more than the average of 2,300 cases per week last year.

The last week of December saw 2,511 cases reported with four deaths.

On top of these high numbers, the Health Ministry has warned that the El Nino effect could cause a 50% spike.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry announced on Jan 8 that the El Nino phenomena that brings hot and dry weather, is expected to hit the country from the end of January to March, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

“With the hot weather, the life cycle of Aedes mosquitoes, from eggs to adulthood will be shortened to seven days and this will increase the mosquito population during the period,” he said in a press statement yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham also said the high temperatures would cause mosquitoes to be active and increase the frequency of biting and speed up the spread of virus.

He reminded people who stock up water during the hot season to ensure there were no mosquitoes breeding.

“This dengue issue needs to be tackled through more creative, innovative, comprehensive and integrated methods,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

He said the ministry hoped that all ministries, agencies and NGOs as well as the society, would take proactive preventive measures.

Dr Noor Hisham said that from Jan 3 to 9, the number of dengue cases reported had been showing an upward trend since early November.

The increasing cases involved 13 states except Kedah and Labuan.

The number of outbreak locations was higher, 1,044 compared with 907 the week before and the number of hotspots increased from 145 to 161 involving Selangor (122), Johor (22), Perak (8), Penang (4), Sabah (2), Negri Sembilan (2) and the Federal Territory (1).

Last year, 120,836 dengue cases had been reported, an increase of 11.2% or 12,138 cases compared with 108,698 cases in 2014.

Dr Noor Hisham said the number of deaths also increased from 215 in 2014 to 336 last year, an increase of 56%.

The main reasons for the continued increasing numbers were the unhygienic environment, people throwing rubbish indiscriminately and lack of garbage management, he said.

People movement, high population and rapid urbanisation had also contributed to the increase, he said.

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