KUALA LUMPUR: Another death relating to the measles outbreak among the Orang Asli has been reported, making it the fourth death confirmed by the Health Ministry.
The deceased, a 39-year-old woman, had been treated in the isolation ward of Hospital Hulu Terengganu since June 29.
She was confirmed to be infected with measles following a laboratory test, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
On July 7, her health became unstable and she had breathing difficulties.
“She was diagnosed with septicaemic shock secondary to right lobar pneumonia and measles with metabolic acidosis,” Dzulkefly said in a press conference after launching the HKL Simulation and Skills Training Centre yesterday.
The woman was then referred to Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah in Kuala Terengganu for further treatment but died at 7.40pm the same day. A post-mortem has been carried out and the ministry is still waiting for the results.
The measles outbreak is reported to have occurred in Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, Kelantan, Kampung Gerdong in Hulu Terengganu, Terengganu and Kampung Ulu Sat, Jerantut, Pahang.
Asked if the government would carry out further checks after some private doctors found that the manganese in the water sources in Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, Kelantan was very high, Dzulkelfly said that while the four deaths were related to measles, it was difficult to determine the cause of death of the other 12 as there were bones left with hardly any flesh for the forensic team to analyse.
On Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) president Dr Steven Chow saying that manganese poisoning should not be excluded as a possible cause of the deaths of Bateq people in Kuala Koh, Dzulkefly said that the four deaths were from complications from measles, confirmed by the chief pathologist.
He said that while he does not rule out that water samplings show manganese and arsenic pollution, the ministry’s serology and PCR tests from samplings showed that they died from pneumonia as a result of measles complications.
“It is wrong for him to link it as a cause of death.
“While the river may be polluted but the cause of death, there is no causal relationship. Manganese toxicity does not present itself that way.
“This has been presented by the chief pathologist and we stand by it,” he said, adding that the ministry was still waiting for the toxicology, heavy metals and entomology results.
On Friday, Dr Chow said that samples from water supply area in the forest, piped water from the village’s source in Sungai Pertak as well as water collected from the river showed high traces of manganese.
Dr Chow said he and other private doctors doing outreach work at the village had collected the samples of water on June 12.
FPMPAM tests found the level of manganese to be 2.53mg/L, which is 2,500% above the normal level of 1mg/L, he said.
Since the outbreak on June 3 until July 9 at 9am, 178 cases with symptoms including four deaths had been reported; 147 in Kelantan including three deaths, 23 in Terengganu including one death, and eight in Pahang with no deaths.
Out of the number, 88 cases were confirmed measles; 67 in Kelantan, 17 in Terengganu and four in Pahang.As of July 9 at 9am, 25 cases in Kelantan were still being treated, with 24 in an isolation ward and another in intensive care unit and 76 cases with mild symptoms placed in special lodging.
In Terengganu, five patients were still being treated in an isolation ward.
On the breathing difficulties of students in Pasir Gudang, Johor,
Dzulkefly said that as of July 9 at 9am, one new case was reported and the patient was treated as an outpatient.
As of July 9 at 9am, there were a total of 1,138 cases with breathing difficulties; 1094 received outpatient treatment while 44 were warded.