Tenom district sees spike in gastroenteritis cases

KOTA KINABALU: The Tenom district has experienced a surge in acute gastroenteritis (AGE) cases in the past fortnight, predominantly affecting children.

Sabah Health Department Director Datuk Dr Asits Sanna (pic) reported that the outbreak began at around June 4 with an increase in patients presenting with symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting, and fever, which could lead to dehydration or even death if untreated.

"From June 2 to June 13, the Tenom health office logged a total of 191 AGE cases, with over 70% involving children under the age of 12," he stated on Monday (June 17).

Dr Asits noted that of those affected, 153 were treated as outpatients, while 37 required hospitalisation.

As of Monday, four patients remain in hospital care.

Clinical samples have revealed the presence of rotavirus, leading to suspicions that contaminated water is the likely culprit.

Dr Asits said that investigations are ongoing in collaboration with the Water Department to identify the pollution source.

He outlined the control measures taken, including laboratory testing, epidemiological and environmental investigations, coupled with public awareness campaigns.

Rotavirus can spread through air or contaminated food, faecal-oral contact, hands, toys or surfaces and underscores the importance of maintaining hygiene in daily life, particularly in handling food and water.

Dr Asits concluded by stressing the importance of cooking and storing food and water properly and advised those with symptoms to seek medical treatment promptly.

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