Friday, April 04, 2014

Authorities perplexed by spike in TB cases among the young

KUCHING: The number of young people suffering from tuberculosis (TB) in the state of late is said to be on the rise, which is puzzling the authorities. Assistant Minister of Public Health Datuk Dr Jerip Susil said this is a cause of concern because people in the younger age group are believed to have stronger immune system. “What is more alarming now is not the increase in the number of cases reported but what worries us is why there has been more and more young TB patients nowadays when in the old days the disease was common only among the older people,” he said. Without giving any figure, Dr Jerip said this new trend was a cause of worry because apparently the vaccination programme for children was not ineffective in protecting them against the contagious disease. “The vaccination programme is to make our immune system and antibodies stronger. That is why young people usually have greater resistance to sicknesses but now that the number of TB cases is more alarming among young patients we really don’t know what is wrong with our vaccination programme,” he said.

He told The Borneo Post this when asked to comment on the statement by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam in Kuala Lumpur on Monday that TB was the main cause of death under the contagious disease category last year, with a 13 per cent increase in the number of cases. He said 1,597 cases of TB-related deaths were reported nationwide last year – an increase of 183 cases compared to 1,414 deaths reported in 2012. Nevertheless, it was not revealed how many of the deaths were reported in the state, but Dr Jerip, who is Bengoh assemblyman, said overall the disease in the state was still under control although there was an increase in the number of cases reported last year as compared to the previous year.

According to him, there were 2,430 cases in 2012 while last year it was 2,673, an increase of nine per cent. He explained that the increase could be due to two factors. “The first one is there could have been some actual increase while the other factor could be due to the greater efforts made to control and prevent the spread of TB among the people,” he said.

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