…because “it can’t happen to you”.


Health Ministry issues dengue alert
Husna Yusop

PUTRAJAYA (Jan 19, 2009) :
The Health Ministry today issued a dengue alert yesterday, with worrisome statistics.Dengue cases have more than doubled so far this year with 3,211 cases reported nationwide from Jan 1-17 compared to 1,514 cases in the same period last year.


At the same time, there were eight dengue-related deaths compared to four last year, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican told a Press conference, adding he was worried that people were not serious in taking preventive measures although the disease is preventable.

“We must declare an all-out war on dengue and chikungunya so that people know this is a major problem,” he told a press conference at the ministry today, saying 63% of dengue cases were reported in the Klang Valley.

As for Chikunkunya, 364 cases were reported until Jan 17 with majority of the cases in Selangor, Kelantan, Perak, Johor, Kedah, Pahang and Penang.

Ismail said dengue cases have been on the rise all around the world due to several factors namely human activities, urbanisation and climate change.

“According to the information received, 80% of the areas with dengue cases have a high rate of Aedes breeding sites. Since dengue is caused by Aedes bites, the most effective measure is to get rid of these sites.

“Fogging activities are only effective to kill adult mosquitoes. The larvae would not be killed by the fog, therefore the public must be active in checking their premises and destroy all breeding sites,” he said, adding it only takes 10 minutes a week for this while advising community leaders to organise gotong royong to clean up their areas.

Now, dengue cases come with different presentations like epileptic, jaundice, hepatitis and organ failure, so people don’t realise it is dengue. This atypical presentation is not like the standard cases of fever, bleeding or low-plate blood count.

“Because of this, some of the diagnosis were made very late. That’s why we have informed all our doctors to be aware. If someone has fever and comes from dengue-infested areas, always do extra testing for dengue,” he said, while advising patients to come early to seek treatment if they have symptoms of dengue.


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