Govt urged to carry out more tests to rule out manganese poisoning behind deaths of Orang Asli

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 04 Jul 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Manganese poisoning should not be excluded as a possible cause of death of 15 Bateq Orang Asli in Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, says medical expert Dr Steven Chow.

Instead, he said the Government should do more tests to rule out manganese poisoning as the reason for their deaths in the settlement.

"We believe the declaration of a measles outbreak is a red herring. Other causes of death must be looked into as well," he said at a press conference Thursday (July 4).

Dr Chow, who is also president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners' Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM), said tests on water samples collected from the water supply area in the forest, piped water from the village's water source in Sg Pertak as well as water collected from the river showed high traces of manganese.

FPMPAM tests found manganese levels to be at 2.53mg/L, which is 2500% above normal levels of 1mg/L.

Dr Chow also said that the first two mortalities in the village was due to "lobar pneumonia", which is not consistent with measles.

"The usual presentation if measles affecting the lungs is interstitial pneumonia, not lobar pneumonia,” he said.

He added that there were no cases of measles detected during the group’s visit to Kampung Kuala Koh in April.

Instead, they found other problems such as malnutrition, fungal infections including Tinea imbricata, upper respiratory tract infection and gastrointestinal problems.

The group also found two patients with neurological problems, including then Tok Batin Hamdan Keladi, who showed signs of stroke.

Chow also revealed that Hamdan’s brother had slurred speech.

On June 17, the Health Ministry announced the cause of death as measles based on laboratory tests which found 37 out of 112 people examined tested positive.

A total of 15 deaths in the village were said to be due to measles after a three-year-old toddler was believed to be the latest casualty.

Prior to that, an operation to trace the bodies of 12 Bateq villagers in Kuala Koh started on June 12 after two villagers were reported to have died in the village.

The first post-mortem on the two villagers showed that they died from pneumonia.

Recently, the Home Ministry said it will consider suggestions to form an inquest to investigate the deaths of 15 people in Kuala Koh.

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