Materia Medica Malaysiana

January 29, 2006

Girl, 13, may have died of JE

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:50 am

NST: Japanese Encephalitis is rearing its ugly head again. A 13-year-old girl is dead, believed to be a victim of the deadly disease. Two others are battling for their lives.
Tests on one of those warded, Norhayati Awang, 27, has conclusively shown that she has contracted JE.
While hoping the three cases detected in separate villages here are isolated ones, health authorities are not taking chances and have sent a team of about 50 to contain its spread.
Dr Marzukhi Md Isa, the Health Ministry’s deputy director of disease control (vector-borne diseases), said they might cordon off the area if more people showed JE symptoms.
JE, transmitted by the culex mosquito, is one of several mosquito-borne virus that can affect the central nervous system and cause severe complications and death.
Last year, there were 32 reported JE cases, with seven deaths. In 2004, the number of cases were the same but there were three deaths.
In 1999, another strain of the JE — the Nipah virus — claimed more than 100 lives and forced villagers in Bukit Pelandok, Negri Sembilan, to evacuate, turning the area into a ghost town.
More than 600,000 pigs were culled to stop the spread of the disease.
Health officials confirmed that Siti Mardiana Mohd Ramli died on Thursday morning, two days after being admitted to Tanah Merah Hospital.
She was suffering from high fever, headache and discomfort, the symptoms of JE.
Her blood sample has been sent to the Institute of Medical Research for testing.
“We hope to get the results within a day or two,” said Dr Marzukhi.
He confirmed tests showed that Norhayati, who has been warded at Kota Baru Hospital, had contracted JE. She is battling for her life.
Norhayati, an epileptic from Jalan Klinik here, was first admitted to Tanah Merah Hospital on Tuesday with symptoms of fever, headache and bodily discomfort.
She was transferred to Kota Baru Hospital when her condition worsened.
Hasnira Hussien, 13, from Kampung Bukit Pauh, was admitted to Tanah Merah Hospital on Thursday and later transferred to Kota Baru Hospital. Her condition is also critical.
Local health authorities are baffled that the JE has surfaced in Kelantan as there are no pig farms in the State.
Previous outbreaks, in Perak and Negri Sembilan, were mainly linked to pigs reared in farms.
After analysing the three cases and interviewing the victims, medical workers here are working on the theory that the disease could have spread from wild boars.
There have been many sightings of wild boars at the back of the victims’ homes, which are surrounded by thick jungle.
The 50 Health Department workers began a large-scale operation today in the Jalan Klinik area in Tanah Merah town, Kampung Air Kerala and Kampung Bukit Pauh.
They spent hours visiting houses on a fact-finding mission and to check on the surroundings.
Villagers were told to clean their surroundings and clear stagnant waterways, ponds and puddles, especially those with keladi (yam) growing in them.
“Some of these villagers have the tendency to allow the keladi plant to grow in these ponds. This is dangerous as culex mosquitoes breed underneath this plant,” said an official.
“The teams are also doing a mosquito survey to check if there are many culex mosquitoes in the area,” the official said.
Dr Marzukhi said the initial JE symptoms were a flu-like illness with fever, chills, tiredness, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Confusion and agitation can also occur.
The illness can progress to a serious infection of the brain (encephalitis) and can be fatal in 30 per cent of cases.
Among the survivors, another 30 per cent will have serous brain damage and paralysis.
He said symptoms usually appeared six to eight days after being infected by the culex mosquito.
At Siti Mardiana’s home in Kampung Air Kerala, an air of sadness lingered as her family tried to cope with their loss.
Her father, Mohd Ramli Mohd Zaid, 34, said Siti Mardiana, the eldest of six children, had high fever for days but kept it from the family until she vomited in school on Monday.
“It was only after her teacher sent her home that I knew about it,” said Ramli.

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