KUALA LUMPUR - The spike in the number of dengue cases this year is the highest in Malaysia's history and the problem could be endemic, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
There have been twice as many deaths this years compared to last year with 157 fatalities in the first six months, and more than 40,000 cases, an increase of more than 30 per cent.
He said the ministry was expecting a larger number of cases this year with a new serotype infecting humans. There are four dengue serotypes.
Dr Subramaniam said the ministry was facing a big challenge with dengue and urged the people to work with them to eradicate it.
Speaking at his ministry's buka puasa function with the media, he said more patients were coming in for treatment for a second time, and were suffering from pneumonia, liver failure, brain failure and other more complicated problems unlike before when patients had spots and bleedings.
"We are looking at different serotype viral infections. Many people are getting dengue for the second time. If you get it again, then it is serious," he said.
"There is what we call immune damage."
Dr Subramaniam said there were proper vaccines to deal with all four different serotypes.
"Patients can get infected by dengue up to four times," he said.
He said the ministry had no cure for dengue but were controlling it and was conducting checks at construction sites with municipal councils, state health departments and state governments to ensure that mosquitoes do not breed in these areas.
On the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Dr Subramaniam said Malaysia was ready to contain any outbreak if the disease spreads here.
"Surveillance is there and I can assure you the Health Ministry has the ability to handle MERS. Our people have the expertise and knowledge to make sure it does not spread."