Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Health Ministry says 16 Japanese Encephalitis cases since January

Health Ministry says 16 Japanese Encephalitis cases since January
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said there has been a total of 16 Japanese Encephalitis cases this year. — Picture by Choo Choy MayGEORGE TOWN, June 30 — A total of 16 Japanese Encephalitis (JE) cases has been reported nationwide since the start of the year, including four deaths, according to the Health Ministry.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said of the 16 cases, eight were in Sarawak, four in Sabah, two in Penang and one each in Selangor and Kelantan.
Of the four deaths, two were in Sabah and one each from Selangor and Kelantan.
“The ministry received a report of a JE case from a private hospital in Penang on June 27 where the 12-year-old boy was a student of a primary school in northern Seberang Perai but lives in Padang Serai, Kedah,” he said in an official statement issued today.
He revealed that the student first received medical treatment at two private clinics on May 16 after suffering from headache, nausea and vomiting before he was warded in a government hospital on May 18 for suspected meningitis.
On May 21, the boy’s condition worsened and he was intubated to assist in his breathing and on the same day, he was transferred to a private hospital in Bayan Baru, Penang for further treatment.
He was discharged on June 17 but he was unable to talk or walk due to the infection and on June 26, he was warded into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Subramaniam said the results of tests on blood samples taken on May 23 was released on June 27 confirmed that the boy had JE.
“The Penang Health Department and Kedah Health Department had conducted investigations into the case especially around the boy’s school in north Seberang Perai and his house in Padang Serai, Kedah.
Amongst the preventive measures conducted included testing other residents and students for JE symptoms and conducting fogging to destroy mosquito breeding sites.
“So far, we find that the 715 students in the boy’s school did not show any symptoms of suffering from JE and the residents in the area are also symptom-free,” he said.
The Health Ministry also cooperated with the respective state’s veterinary departments to check for JE infections.
“Based on our investigations on the JE case in Penang, we suspect that it stemmed from the patient being exposed to mosquitoes with the JE virus while participating in a camping activity in school between April 24 and 26,” he said.
Subramanian said the locality of the student’s school is a high risk area for JE infection as it is near pig farms.
The JE virus is spread by the Culex mosquito that had bitten animals such as pigs and birds that are reservoirs for the virus.
The virus has a five to 15 days incubation period, a large portion of the infection are asymptomatic and the possibility of contracting encephalitis is one out of 250 cases.
Symptoms of the virus infection include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting.
“The ministry has advised all schools to obtain the necessary advisory from the district health offices before conducting any camping exercises or overnight activities especially if the school is located within a 2km radius from a pig farm,” he said.
He urged pig farm workers and residents living nearby to take precautionary steps as prevention against the virus infection.
“Please get rid of mosquito breeding grounds and whoever experienced any of the symptoms must immediately get medical treatment,” he said. 

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