Waterborne bacteria found

Rugby player shows symptoms after sustaining injury in field

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Health Department has confirmed the detection of active Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria at the rugby field in Tanjung Aru.

The bacteria is a causative agent of melioidosis, an infectious disease that could lead to death if not treated early.

State health director Datuk Dr Asits Sanna said they were notified of the case on March 11 after a rugby player came in sick after playing at the field.

“The patient disclosed that he suffered a leg injury while playing rugby, and we believe that could have caused him to get infected,” said Dr Asits in a statement yesterday.

He was responding to a Facebook post about the release of an Environmental Control for Melioidosis Infection Disease at the rugby field.

Dr Asits added that as of the 14th Epidemiology Week (ME) this year, the department registered a total of 44 melioidosis cases in the state, an increase of 12.8% compared to 39 cases recorded during the same period last year.

“Sandakan tops the list of the most recorded cases with 12, followed by Kota Kinabalu (11), five each in Papar and Penampang, and two each in Sipitang and Keningau,” he said.

Melioidosis, also called Whitmore’s disease, is an infectious disease that can infect humans or animals and is caused by the Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria, which is found in contaminated soil and water.

Infection often occurs during the rainy season and can be transmitted through the respiratory tract (dust or contaminated water droplets, consuming contaminated water, or through wounds).

“Those suffering chronic diseases such as diabetes, thalassemia, cancer, liver, kidney or other low-body immunity illnesses have a higher risk of getting infected,” he said.

Among the symptoms of the disease are high fever, chronic cough, loss of appetite, abdominal or chest pain, muscle or joint pain, headache and extreme tiredness.

Dr Asits added that the disease could be treated by taking certain antibiotics and advised those with the symptoms to seek immediate treatment before their condition gets worse.

“For now, avoid exposure to contaminated soil and water sources, especially those with wounds on the skin and those with chronic diseases.

“Those whose work involves contaminated soil and water resources should use waterproof shoes, gloves and face masks.

“If there are wounds on the body, wash and cover them properly,” he said.

The department will continue to monitor and enhance its awareness programmes to educate people about melioidosis.

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