Thursday, January 29, 2009

Carbon dioxide can control Aedes

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Fogging of mosquito breeding grounds can be a hit and miss affair because the mosquitoes may have already moved to another place.
Thus fogging must be done at the right place and time if Aedes, the primary vector for dengue and chikungunya, is to be eliminated, said University Malaya Medical Centre Vector Control Centre specialist Dr Wan Yusoff Wan Sulaiman.
"We assume where the Aedes breeding grounds are when we carry out fogging but the mosquitoes may have already moved to other places. The pesticide is only effective within a radius of 200 metres."
Dr Wan Yusoff said more effective measures, such as the systematic and continuous use of light traps, which release carbon dioxide, in Aedes breeding grounds should be employed to control the Aedes population.
"The impact of vector control on dengue fever in developed countries has been proven effective in controlling the transmission of the virus."
He said checks should be carried out at potential mosquito breeding grounds such as public toilets, construction sites, abandoned projects, parks and recreational areas, and clogged drains.
"Aedes eggs stick fast to the place where they are laid, such as pails and flower pots, and can withstand long dry spells. When their 'homes' become wet again, the eggs hatch. Thus we must scrub pails and flower pots throughly."
Their "stickiness" and ability to withstand long dry spells explained how Aedes aegypti eggs from Africa could survive a journey to Asia and Aedes albopictus eggs from Asia could make its way to the United States.

Combat dengue on more fronts

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Mobile fever clinics should be set up in dengue outbreak areas to arrest the spread of the disease, said the head of medical microbiology at University Ma-laya Medical Centre Prof Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar.
He said infected humans were the main carriers and multipliers of the virus which caused dengue fever.
"The virus circulates in the blood of infected humans for two to seven days, about the same time that they have a fever, and female Aedes mosquitoes may acquire the virus when they feed on an individual during this period. and transmit it to the next human they feed on."
Some studies have shown that monkeys in some parts of the world play a similar role in transmission.
"Early detection and temporary quarantine of the infected person will help reduce transmission of the disease to immediate family members and neighbours, besides fogging," he told the New Straits Times when commenting on the call by Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai to form additional special task force teams at the district level nationwide to intensify the war against dengue.
The task force teams were to embark on a mosquito breeding spot search-and-destroy mission.
The number of dengue cases spiralled to 4,221 with 12 deaths in the first 23 days of this month compared with 2,103 cases, including five deaths, during the corresponding period last year.
Selangor had the highest number with 1,727 cases, followed by Kuala Lumpur (307 cases) and Penang (227).
The incidence of dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades.
Some 2.5 billion people, two fifths of the world's population, are now at risk from dengue. The World Health Organisation estimates 50 million dengue infections worldwide every year.
Dr Sazaly said while the Health Ministry embarked on methods to destroy Aedes mosquitoes, it should also work aggressively on the early detection of people with dengue fever.
It should use techniques that could identify dengue antigens within a day -- Dengue NS1 and PCR molecular detection -- which were available at Institute for Medical Research, Sungai Buloh Hospital, Kuala Lumpur Hospital, UMMC, Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor, Penang general hospital and major private hospitals.
"Malaysia is at the peak of the dengue outbreak. The number of cases should go down by March but will rise if Malaysians do not take any initiative to help the government fight dengue."
He called on those returning from the Chinese New Year holidays to ensure that they cleaned out all containers containing water, such as earthenware jars, metal drums and concrete cisterns used for domestic water storage.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

‘Full assault’ on dengue next week

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Government, which has declared war against dengue, will be launching an all-out campaign against the pesky Aedes mosquito early next week in an effort to bring down the number of cases.
So far, 12 people have died and the number of cases from Jan 1 to Jan 23 this year had nearly doubled to 4,221 compared with 2,153 for the same period last year.
“We have to take drastic action and we will be doing this campaign on a big scale,” Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said.
“The people’s involvement in this campaign is important to ensure dengue can be eradicated quickly.
“It is very dangerous and should not be taken lightly as it can be fatal,” he said when met at the MCA Chinese New Year open house celebrations at Wisma MCA here Monday.
Liow urged the public to take extra precautions. “Although we are in the festive season, we still need to be alert as the dengue problem is widespread.
“If you think you have dengue but you are not sure, just go and see the doctor immediately,” he said.
Liow said he had instructed district health departments to set up special taskforces and intensify their fogging activities in all areas.
He said Malaysians should do their part by making sure their homes were mosquito-free, checking for water stagnation and cleaning up regularly.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekly news conference on dengue

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will hold weekly press conferences on the "alarming" dengue situation to impress the urgency of the situation on the public.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican will release the latest figures on the number of victims besides informing people about measures taken to fight dengue.
Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said 4,221 cases and 12 deaths had been recorded between Jan 1 and Jan 23, which was double that for the same period last year.
"The situation is the worst in Selangor, with 2,223 cases and five deaths, and Federal Territory (409 cases and two deaths)."
He said besides the weather, the lack of hygiene and proper upkeep of home surroundings was to blame for the jump in dengue cases.
He said cases of chikungunya, another Aedes-borne ailment, was also on the rise with 458 cases reported until Jan 23.
Liow, who spoke after giving ang pow to 268 Valley of Hope residents at the national Leprosy Control Centre here yesterday, said food containing peanut butter imported from United States would be screened for salmonella contamination at all ports of entry following reports of contamination in the US.

Selangor tops list as dengue cases continue to rise

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The number of dengue cases in the country has continued to climb with 12 deaths from the 4,221 cases recorded since Jan 1.
“I hope everyone will cooperate with us to get the situation under control,” Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai told reporters after handing out ang pow to more than 100 Valley of Hope residents here yesterday.
Selangor remains the state with the highest number of cases at 2,223 with five deaths, compared to 751 cases and one death in the same period last year.
There were 409 cases with two deaths in Kuala Lumpur compared to 270 cases and no casualties in the same period last year.
There were 245 cases reported in Penang and 128 cases in Kedah, compared to 100 and 65 cases in the respective states during the same period last year.
Liow said chikungunya cases had also spiked, totalling 458 as of Friday with Selangor topping the list with 109 cases.
Perak had 96 cases and Kelantan 85.
On Monday, Liow declared war on dengue and called on everyone, including local councils and the public, to work together.
When asked what he thought was the cause for the sudden spike in the number of cases, he replied: “It could partly be due to the weather, but it’s also due to the lack of hygiene and sanitary measures.”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Peanut butter put on health alert

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has placed all peanut butter from the United States on Level 5 alert following several salmonella-linked deaths there, said Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai.
Under Level 5, stringent tests would be carried out first to determine if the product are safe for consumption.
US authorities on Friday said seven people had died from a nationwide outbreak of salmonella associated with tainted peanut butter and paste sourced to the Peanut Corporation of America’s (PCA) plant in Blakely, Georgia.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the bacterial strain as Salmonella Typhimurium.
The CDC said there had been 492 cases in 43 states and one Canadian province of people sickened with the strain as of Thursday, US media reports.
Patients ranged in age from one to 98 and 22% of people afflicted with the bacteria have been hospitalised.
Another 10 US firms Friday recalled products which use PCA peanut butter or paste -- bringing to roughly 360 the number of products affected -- as it emerged that the plant at the centre of the probe laid off most of its roughly 50 workers, US papers said.
The recalled products range from snack bars to crackers and pre-packaged meals and even pet food. But products containing peanuts not sourced from the PCA plant are deemed safe.
The Food and Drug Administration, which is investigating, has said it has no evidence to suggest the contamination originated with any other major manufacturing facility other than the PCA plant.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ministry wants fight against dengue fever short and simple

Star: PETALING JAYA: Getting the people involved. This will be the thrust of a series of nationwide campaigns the Health Ministry will launch next month in the fight against dengue fever.
Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said: “This is a drastic action on the ground to curb the spread of dengue. It will be done from state to state. It is about getting the people involved.”
He said final adjustments were being done but the emphasis was on “keeping it short and simple” in managing the disease.
The ministry declared war against dengue and chikungunya on Monday following an unusual jump in cases.
“The numbers are alarming and we are serious about our war against dengue,” said Liow, who is part of an MCA delegation, led by president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, in Beijing.
The campaign is designed to get the involvement of all parties involved including doctors, the public, public health officers and local councils.
“It will complement our current strategies,” Liow said.
He reiterated that the ministry was concerned about the spike in dengue cases and deaths in the first two weeks of the year.
From Jan 4 to Saturday, there were 3,211 cases with eight deaths compared with 1,514 cases and four deaths in the same period last year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Homes, shophouses breeding grounds for Aedes

Star: PETALING JAYA: Houses and shophouses registered the highest percentage among premises found to be active breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquito.
Deputy director of disease control (vector) Datuk Dr Azmi Hashim said of the premises that checked positive for Aedes breeding, 75% to 80% were houses and shophouses.
“This is a high number and means that many dengue patients were infected in their own homes,” he said in an interview here yesterday.
Dr Azmi was commenting on reports that the Health Ministry had declared war on dengue following an alarming rise in cases and related deaths in the first two weeks of the year.
There have been 3,211 cases with eight deaths, compared to 1,514 cases and four deaths during the same period last year.
Dr Azmi said although state health department officers periodically carried out fogging at neighbourhoods known to be hot-spots for dengue infection, this acted only as a temporary measure.
“Fogging only kills adult mosquitoes. It is more effective for home-owners to destroy all breeding sites around their houses.
“Home owners should clean up their compounds and add larvicide to any water container or pot,” he said, adding that the Health Ministry had published pamphlets advising the public to spend 10 minutes each week checking their homes for Aedes breeding sites.
To report cases of dengue, the public can approach the nearest district health office or call the dengue operations room hotline at 03-8881-0600 or 03-8881-0700.
Meanwhile, Deputy Health Minis-ter Datuk Dr Abd Latiff Ahmad said the lack of co-operation from the public was the main reason for the increase in dengue cases.
“If people are not concerned, what else can the Government do?” he said during the launch of the second phase of “I Care Vision 20/20” at the Tun Hussein Onn Hospital yesterday.
Dr Latiff said the Government was giving away the Abate larvicide for people to use on mosquito breeding areas and that volunteer groups had been set up through the Combi (Communication for Behavioural Impact) concept to create awareness on dengue.

Ministry's losing war on dengue

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry yesterday took Klang Valley residents to task for a disappointing response to the "war" against dengue.
Its Deputy Minister, Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad, said the lack of public cooperation had contributed to the increase in dengue and chikungunya cases.
"The issue here is that city dwellers refuse to get involved in gotong-royong. They think only residents' associations or city councils are responsible for maintaining cleanliness and checking on Aedes breeding sites in their areas."
He said urban residents had a lackadaisical attitude to the problem, thinking that they would not get bitten by the Aedes mosquito.
"They think that others will get the virus but they won't.'
On Monday, the ministry revealed that Kuala Lumpur and Selangor had the highest number of dengue cases over the first 17 days of the year.
Selangor recorded 1,727 cases with four deaths while Kuala Lumpur had 307 cases with one death.
The numbers were far higher compared to the same period last year.
Dr Abdul Latiff said although the awareness campaign on dengue and chikungunya seemed to succeed in other states, the response in the Klang Valley proved otherwise.
"We are going all out to fight the viruses but if the people are not worried about their health, then we don't know what else to do."
Dr Abdul Latiff said the ministry would fine occupants with Aedes breeding grounds.
"We are not planning to increase the fine but we need to emphasise the Communication for Behavioural Impact (Combi) programme to obtain public cooperation," he said, adding that there were 11,892 Combi volunteers nationwide.
A total of RM3.4 million in fines was collected last year from those found to have Aedes breeding grounds in their homes.
Dr Abdul Latiff was speaking to reporters after launching the "I Care Vision 20/20" project at the Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital.
The project, in its second phase, aims to train kindergarten teachers to identify eye problems among children aged between 2 and 6.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pharmacists ready to take over dispensing of medicine

NST: SUBANG JAYA: The Malay-sian Pharmaceutical Society has proposed a "zoning" system to enable pharmacists to take over the dispensing of medicine from doctors.
MPS president Datuk Nancy Ho said the age-old argument of insufficient number of pharmacies in Malaysia was no longer true.
The society conducted a "geo-mapping" study to identify the locations of pharmacies in relation to clinics and found that in major areas like Klang Valley, Penang, Johor Baru, Kota Kinabalu, Kota Baru and Kuching, the ratio was enough to serve doctors.
Ho said pharmacists could set up 24-hour outlets to cater to the needs of clinics.
MPS wanted the zoning proposal to be implemented in selected towns and to let consumers decide where they wanted to get their prescribed medications.
Some 100 doctors and pharmacists will gather at a symposium, "Future Challenges for Healthcare in Malaysia" here tomorrow and one of the issues to be raised is separation of the role of doctors and pharmacists in providing healthcare.
"It is crucial that consumers are educated on the proper use of medicines."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dengue cases going unreported

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Doctors in clinics are reluctant to notify the government of dengue cases, judging from the fact that only two per cent of reports of cases come from private clinics.
Health Department director-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said such an attitude could lead to patients dying because doctors at clinics did not want to take responsibility but passed the buck to hospitals.
"This reflects the reluctance to take charge, and passing the responsibility to hospitals is probably to get them to provide the serological confirmation."
The phenomenon baffles Dr Ismail when the number of cases was increasing every year, with 112 deaths reported last year.
The national dengue mortality review revealed that 47.4 per cent of the patients who died were sent to hospitals at a very late stage of their illness, while a quarter of dengue deaths occurred within 24 hours of hospitalisation.
"There are no repercussions for the doctors if they notify the cases. I just don't know why they don't do it.
"In fact, there is only a positive effect. The ministry will immediately carry out fogging exercise in the victim's area," Dr Ismail said after launching the second revision of the Clinical Practice Guidelines of the Management of Dengue Infection in Adults, here, yesterday.
The guidelines focus on management of the dengue infection from the early stages to intensive care.
The guidelines, which will be distributed to health practitioners dealing with dengue, outlines basic symptoms of the infection without having to rely solely on platelet counts.
Dr Ismail urged the public not to leave the prevention and control measures to the government since 80 per cent of dengue cases occurred at homes.
"It only takes 10 minutes a week to ensure that there is no stagnant water and to overturn containers which may be potential Aedes breeding ground.
"The public cannot depend on the local councils to fog their areas. They must do their part."