Materia Medica Malaysiana

January 14, 2007

Flood victims face new threat

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:16 pm

NST: JOHOR BARU: For the first time since the Dec 19 floods in Johor, two people have lost their lives to a bacteria spread by animals.
This brings the death toll from the floods to 15, although all the previous reported deaths were due to drowning.
The two latest casualties, men in their 40s and 60s, died of leptospirosis — a disease associated with contact with wild and domestic animal urine.
“In this case, it is believed to be rat urine,” Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said here yesterday.
The bacteria enters the body through broken skin or through the soft tissue on the inside of the mouth, nose or eyes.
The symptoms include high fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, conjunctivitis (red eyes), diarrhoea, vomiting, and kidney or liver problems (which may include jaundice), anaemia and, sometimes, rashes. Symptoms may last from a few days to several weeks.
One of the men who died was from Kangkar Tebrau and the other lived in Kampung Seri Purnama, both here.
Ghani said the threat of the outbreak of disease during floods was inevitable, and this was all the more reason why people stranded in villages should be evacuated to flood relief centres quickly.
“I cannot stress the urgency of evacuation enough.
“The longer people opt to stay in their flooded homes, the higher the chances of facing the threat of attacks and disease from animals.”
Ghani said he had also directed the Health Department to step up public education programmes and carry out mass vaccination where necessary.
There was also a dire need to ensure cleanliness and hygiene at relief centres and mass kitchens where food was prepared for distribution to flood victims, said the menteri besar.
He said the danger posed by leptospirosis was serious as contaminated rat urine could easily be spread through water to humans.
“Health workers have been directed to look out for people showing symptoms of the disease and rush them to the nearest hospital to contain its spread.”
Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat said his ministry and the state Health Department were monitoring the situation.
He cautioned people in Johor, especially those with abrasions, not to play in dirty flood water and to wear clothes that cover their bodies to prevent them from becoming infected.

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