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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Six die of leptospirosis after rescue ops

MARAN July 10 — Six villagers have died of leptospirosis and melioidosis within a week of joining in the search for a drowning victim in the Lubuk Yu recreational forest near here, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai revealed today.

He identified them as Azizam Abdullah, 58, Timothy Hoo Seng Heng, 29, Lim Sin Lai, 55, Mohd Ali Abdullah, 60, Zakaria Ayub, 52, and Zainal Abidin Ismail, 56. Two of them died on July 9 and one each on July 8, July 7, July 6 and July 3, he said, adding that four of them died at the Sultan Ahmad Shah Hospital in Temerloh and two at their homes.
"The six became ill a week after participating in the search and rescue operation and suffered from fever, cough, muscle aches and diarrhoea,” he told reporters after attending a briefing on the incident, here.

Also present at the news conference was Pahang director of health Datuk Dr Rosnah Ismail.
Liow said seven other people were under treatment, three of them at the Temerloh hospital, two at Jengka Hospital and one each at Selayang Hospital and Kuantan Medical Centre. He said the 13 were among 83 people comprising 56 search and rescue personnel and 27 villagers who were involved in an operation to look for drowning victim Mohd Azhar Azizam, 28, between June 26 and 30. Mohd Azhar”s body was recovered on June 30.

Liow advised the people not to panic, saying the bacteria was not contagious.
"Studies show that the bacteria is not contagious and that only those involved in the search and rescue operation were affected,” he said, adding that all of them had been administered preliminary treatment as a precaution. He said death only occurred in cases where treatment was administered late.

Family members of the dead persons did not display symptoms of the disease, he added. Liow said the villagers must have contracted the bacteria when they camped in Lubuk Yu during the operation until the recovery of Mohd Azhar”s body.

He said the recreational area had been closed to the public pending the outcome of tests on soil and water samples. "Leptospirosis and melioidosis are endemic in Malaysia and in the tropics. People must exercise caution when picnicking in recreational areas,” he said. — BERNAMA

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