Beware, people! Modern living and extreme weather have made it conducive for pests to breed and diseases to spread.
Dengue is a prevalent infectious disease in Malaysia.
There are ‘monsters’ in our midst and it’s not the 60-foot types stomping and chomping everything in their way.
Instead, the ‘monsters’ are pathogens whose hosts are animals or insect pests populating human habitats and thriving near human activities.
Experts and authorities are voicing their concern over the illnesses and fatalities caused by two pests in particular: mosquitoes and rats.
Over the years, there has been a sharp rise in the number of diseases caused by mosquitoes and rats, particularly dengue and leptospirosis.
Dengue is caused by the Aedes mosquito and it is transmitted when one is bitten by a mosquito harbouring the dengue virus. Symptoms include chills, fever, headaches, rashes and joint pain.
The Ministry of Health has announced that dengue is the most prevalent infectious disease in the country, and statistics are grim:
While the latest figures are not as bad compared to the same period last year, the figures are still high.
Leptospirosis cases in Malaysia are mainly caused by rats.
Changing weather patterns and economic developments have contributed to the rise of dengue cases. In Malaysia, poorly managed construction works, cramped living quarters, abandoned projects and a throwaway culture give rise to ample areas for stagnant water to collect and for mosquitoes to breed.
What is saddening is that the causes are preventable. Keeping the home and surrounding areas clean, preventing the collection of stagnant waters and putting larvicide in water tanks can stop mosquitoes from breeding and spreading the deadly disease.
Leptospirosis is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Leptospira. Despite its informal name ‘rat’s urine disease’, the bacteria can also be found in other animals such as dogs.
In Malaysia, leptospirosis cases have risen exponentially since 2011 due to unsanitary conditions that allow rats to thrive:
2017 (Jan–May): 1,903 cases and 9 deaths
2016: 5,284 cases and 52 deaths
2015: 8,291 cases and 78 deaths
2011: 2,268 cases and 55 deaths
The illness is prone to misdiagnosis as the symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain and jaundice mimic other diseases such as dengue and malaria.
Cases are mostly associated with recreational activities as victims usually contracted the disease after visiting contaminated waterfalls, ponds and rivers. It is also linked to floods, where people are displaced and sanitation is poor.
In conclusion, you might have contracted one of the above-mentioned illnesses and survived, or you might have known someone who had. Whatever it is, this is the time to keep vigilant and be proactive in preventing these dreaded diseases.