KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11: The number of dengue fever cases in Malaysia reached an all-time high for the period from January to Aug 3, hitting nearly 80,000 cases and 113 deaths reported.
Deputy Health Minister Lee Boon Chye expects the number of cases to hit 150,000 by the end of the year if efforts are not taken to keep it under control.
The highest number of cases recorded previously was in 2015, when there were 120,836 cases with 336 deaths, according to a report by www.straitstimes.com.
The figures between January and Aug 3 are almost double last year's for the same period - which saw 42,496 cases, with 70 deaths.
There were also 251 hot spots in nine states, with most in flats and apartments. The states are: Selangor, the Federal Territories, Johor, Kelantan, Sabah, Penang, Sarawak, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang.
Dr Lee said the ministry was using various ways to overcome the dengue outbreak in the country, and measures included fogging and the removal of mosquito breeding sites.
He said a new method, the release of Aedes mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria to bring down the population of the mosquitoes, was still being monitored. He added that the dengue vaccine was used in the Philippines but it was withdrawn after it led to a higher mortality rate.
The ministry is monitoring the dengue situation continually and receives weekly reports on the number of cases.
With district health offices nationwide keeping an eye on the situation, once dengue cases are reported, measures such as fogging are immediately implemented, said Dr Lee.
When there is a hot spot, the health office also organises a combined community effort with local residents via social mobilisation or through the local council, he added.
Dr Lee also reminded members of the public to play their part in ensuring their living areas are free of Aedes mosquitoes.
"Dengue is increasing in many parts of the world, even in Singapore. Cuba eradicated it once but it has re-emerged. Southern China, southern Taiwan and southern Japan also have reported cases.
"As air travel becomes common, the virus spreads," he said.
The Health Ministry's director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said that since June, the number of weekly dengue cases has increased and reached 3,557 cases a week, but there was a slight decrease in the first week of this month.
About 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the dengue cases occurred in urban areas, he said.
The World Health Organisation report on the dengue situation, dated July 4, shows that Malaysia was not the only place which experienced an increase in the number of dengue cases, with neighbouring areas, such as Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China also seeing an increase, he said.
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