Diphtheria is believed to have claimed the lives of two children over the past week, joining a list of major diseases that have surfaced in the country in recent months.
The diseases come as health authorities continue to battle dengue and tuberculosis (TB).
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah yesterday said the number of suspected and confirmed diphtheria cases were ten and two respectively.
He said the first confirmed death from the disease was recorded in Malacca last Saturday and the most recent was on Wednesday in Kedah. He said the ministry was still waiting for test results on the recent case.
The other major diseases that had been reported in the country are:
Hand, foot and mouth disease — there were a total of 13,022 cases nationwide as of June 16. The top three states are Selangor, with 4,441 cases, Johor (1,393) and Kuala Lumpur (1,317). There have been no fatalities.
Japanese encephalitis — three cases in Negri Sembilan, with no fatalities. A six-year-old is still in the intensive care unit at Tuanku Jaafar Hospital in Seremban, after he was admitted on May 20. His condition is reported to be stable.
Chikungunya — two cases in Negri Sembilan, with no fatalites. Negri Sembilan health director Datuk Dr Abdullah Abdul Rahim said the number of cases of the disease is not alarming.
The most recent diphtheria fatality on Wednesday involved a two-year-old boy who died at the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital in Sungai Petani.
Six of his siblings, between the ages of 10 months and 11 were also admitted at the hospital for suspected diphtheria.
Kedah health director Datuk Dr Norhizan Ismail said yesterday four of the seven siblings, including the deceased, were not vaccinated against diphtheria.
A six-year old foreign child living in Taman Nilam, Langkawi, was also warded for suspected diphtheria. The child is reported to be in stable condition.
The first fatality was seven-year-old K. Durgasini, who was rushed to the Malacca Hospital last Friday with her siblings Agateya and Karthisan, after they showed symptoms associated with diphtheria.
She died the following day but her siblings recovered and are set to be discharged.
Following this, examinations were conducted on Durgasini’s school friends and family members, with over 40 people checked by the Malacca Health Department.
Dr Noor Hisham said in both fatalities, the deceased had not completed their vaccinations.
On dengue, the number of reported cases from Jan 3 to June 22 was 55,002, including 117 fatalities as of June 18.
The top three states with the highest reported cases are Selangor, with 29,493 cases, Johor (7,247) and Kuala Lumpur (4,013).
Dr Noor Hisham said there was a decline in cases since early February by 10 to 20 per cent for three consecutive weeks nationwide but from June 12 to June 18, there were 1,803 cases compared to 1,585 the previous week.
No recent statistics on tuberculosis were available yesterday but Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam had said in March that there were 24,220 cases for the whole of last year, compared to 24,711 in 2014.
However, he said the number of deaths had increased from 1,603 in 2014 to 1,696 last year.
Source -Malay Mail Online-