Via Malay Mail Online: Malaysian apathy leads to health decline. Excerpt:
The higher dengue death toll, and the emergence of leptospirosis this year brought to the fore the apathy of Malaysians to personal hygiene and cleanliness in their home and surroundings.
Dengue, caused by a virus spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, claimed 128 lives this year, up from the 78 recorded in 2009. Selangor registered 15,520 cases with 43 deaths -- the highest among states.
Leptospirosis, caused by a virus present in water contaminated with rat urine, killed 10 people. Reports by the health authorities on the two diseases cited general impassiveness of the people towards cleanliness of their surroundings as a cause for their spread.
Leptospirosis struck in July when it claimed the lives of eight people in a team of rescuers which had waded into the Lubuk Yu recreation park in Maran, Pahang, looking for a missing youth who was found drowned there. The park was then closed for a clean-up process.
In August, two more deaths from the disease were detected in Kedah. One of the individuals was a 17-year-old boy who had bathed at the Puncak Janing recreation area in Kuala Nerang, and the other a staff of the Penang Health Department who had picnicked at the Lata Bayu picnic site in Baling.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that up to August, 1,400 cases of leptospirosis had been detected and that the number was big.
The Health Ministry subsequently categorised leptospirosis as a notifiable disease and ordered an awareness campaign by the district health offices in the country.
As for dengue, district-level committees were set up in 33 areas nationwide and the penalty for allowing the Aedes mosquito to breed was raised five-fold to RM500.
Field experiments with the use of transgenic mosquitoes to control the Aedes mosquito population are expected to be conducted this month in Bentong, Pahang, and Alor Gajah, Melaka.
Liow also said that though the World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared the Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic over, Malaysia would continue to be wary of the disease.
Since the outbreak last year, the disease has claimed the lives of 92 people in the country. A total of 15,584 people were confirmed as H1N1 positive.