Mass testing in Ampang after malaria detected

Precautionary measures: Health Department personnel carrying out malaria screening on a few residents of Taman Saga. — Pic courtesy of Teratai assemblyman Bryan Lai

PETALING JAYA: Mass blood testing for more than 600 households in two neighbourhoods in Ampang is being carried out after 14 cases of malaria were detected in the area.

Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) president Datuk Abdul Hamid Hussain confirmed the malaria outbreak in Taman Saga and Taman Bukit Hatamas, with 13 of the cases found among workers at a construction site.

State health, welfare, women empowerment and family committee chairman Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud said one case involved a local resident.

“The first case was detected on May 30 originating from the project site, and about 500 workers were later screened for malaria.

“A further 3,000 people have been tested and active detection is ongoing in the area by district health officers,” she said.

She added that this was the first reported case of malaria in Selangor this year.

According to Abdul Hamid, the source of the outbreak is still being investigated.

“The Hulu Langat District Health Office has been carrying out malaria screening for residents in Taman Saga since Monday,” he said, adding that residents of 600 houses would be affected.

He said MPAJ has put up banners around the neighbourhood informing residents of the outbreak and carrying out fogging.

He also urged residents to cooperate with the authorities during the screening process and cautioned non-residents to avoid the area.

“Malaria is also a mosquito-borne disease, like dengue. So, we urge residents to ensure their compounds are clean,” Abdul Hamid added. Meanwhile, Teratai assemblyman Bryan Lai said the popular hiking spot of Bukit Saga would be closed to visitors following the outbreak.

“The entrance to the trails at Jalan Saga 26, Taman Bukit Hatamas and Taman Bukit Segar have been sealed off by the Selangor Forestry Department.

“As one of the common places to contract malaria is forested areas, the closure is a precautionary measure,” he said.

The malaria parasite (Plasmodium sp) is spread through the bite of

the female Anopheles mosquito, and usually causes fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle ache and fatigue. Symptoms of high fever with chills and rigors (severe shivering accompanied by a feeling of coldness) followed by sweating as the fever declines may be evident, though not everyone exhibits this pattern.

In April, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Malaysia had successfully maintained a zero human malaria local infection (indigenous) status since 2018.

He said however, cases of zoonotic malaria caused by monkeys and imported malaria cases, were still reported in the country.

In 2019, a total of 3,941 malaria cases from various sources were detected, of which 3,223 (81.8%) cases were zoonotic malaria, 620 (15.7%) cases were imported, while 98 (2.5%) cases were from other sources.

In the same year, six deaths were reported, all of which involved zoonotic infection involving the Plasmodium knowlesi. Siti Mariah advised residents to take preventive measures such as covering up when going outside, and to use mosquito repellents.

“The Anopheles is usually active between 8pm and midnight, unlike the Aedes, which tends to be active at dawn and dusk,” she added.

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