KUALA LUMPUR: Almost 30,000 leptospirosis cases were recorded between 2011 and June this year.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya (pic) said the number of leptospirosis cases rose almost four-fold over the last five years and caused 91 fatalities.
"Since gazetting it as an infectious disease that requires notification under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease in December 2010, there has been a consistent rise in leptospirosis cases," he said when answering a question by Datuk Dr Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad (PAS-Pasir Puteh) in Parliament Monday.
He said 2,268 cases were recorded in 2011, rising to 3,665 in 2012.
"In 2013, 4,457 cases were recorded, with the number rising to 7,806 in 2014 and 8,291 last year," he said.
As of June this year, Dr Hilmi said 2,765 cases were recorded, which represented a 42.6% drop compared to the 4,813 cases recorded for the same period last year.
"The number of fatalities dropped drastically to only 12 as of June this year.
"This is a 58.6% drop compared to the 29 fatalities for the same period last year," he added.
While acknowledging the dangers of leptospirosis, Dr Hilmi said that it is a treatable disease.
"Leptospirosis is fairly easy to treat with antibiotics and penicillin.
"It becomes fatal if it results in other complications leading to organ failure," he said.
Though associated with rat urine, he said the disease can also be transmitted by other mammals, including human carriers.
Dr Hilmi agreed with Dr Nik Mazian that early diagnosis is crucial in providing proper treatment to patients.
He also said that the ministry is working with local councils, land officers and state forestry departments to help maintain hygiene in public places and recreational parks.
This, he added, includes erecting signs at specific locations such as waterfalls to warn the public of the dangers of leptospirosis.