Dengue remains big threat in Malaysia, expert warns

Surge in number of such cases recently, amid country's battle against coronavirus

PETALING JAYA • On top of battling the spread of the coronavirus, Malaysia is also fighting another deadly disease - dengue.

Many areas with coronavirus clusters are also hot spots for dengue, especially in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

There were more new dengue cases than those of Covid-19 on Sunday. That day, 139 new dengue cases were reported, according to the government's iDengue portal. At least 63 people have died of the disease so far this year.

On Sunday, 84 people tested positive for Covid-19. There were 36 cases on Monday, making the total number of local cases 5,425.

According to iDengue, a total of 37,840 new dengue cases had been reported between Dec 29 and April 19. From April 2 to April 19 alone, there were 2,725 cases.

Selangor has the highest number of dengue cases, with 22,826 from Dec 29 to April 19, health ministry data shows. It is followed by Johor (3,106) and Kuala Lumpur (2,854).

Many areas in Selangor, especially in the Hulu Langat, Petaling and Hulu Selangor districts, are dengue hot spots.

Selangor is also a coronavirus hot spot, with 1,345 cases as of Monday, the highest among the states and federal territories. This is followed by Kuala Lumpur, with 1,008 cases.

Areas in Selangor, such as Petaling, Hulu Langat, Gombak, Klang, and Sepang are coronavirus red zones, according to the health ministry. Hulu Langat had 446 Covid-19 cases, and Petaling 375.

The Kuala Lumpur areas with a large number of Covid-19 cases include Lembah Pantai (628), Kepong (157) and Titiwangsa (134).

Some 147 people died of dengue in Malaysia last year, out of a total of 80,615 cases. In 2017, there were 83,849 cases and 177 deaths. The highest number of cases recorded in the past decade was in 2015, with 120,835 cases and 336 deaths.

  • 139

  • Number of new dengue cases reported in Malaysia on Sunday. At least 63 people have died of the disease this year.

"Right now, while we are busy fighting Covid-19, people are starting to forget how dangerous dengue is," Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia public health specialist Rozita Hod told Bernama

Like the rising number of Covid-19 infections, dengue cases are also rising, Dr Rozita said.

Although there have been more coronavirus deaths in Malaysia than dengue fatalities so far this year, dengue should not be taken lightly as it had directly affected more people than Covid-19, she added.

Dengue fever is caused by four different types of viruses transmitted to humans by a bite from the female Aedes mosquito of the aegypti and albopictus species.

Not all dengue cases are treated in hospitals as only those suspected to have dengue haemorrhagic fever are warded, Dr Rozita said. The rest are typically prescribed fever medicine but are also required to go for follow-up checks at the nearest clinic.

With government hospitals and clinics busy handling coronavirus cases, the last thing they would want is a surge in dengue cases.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2020, with the headline Dengue remains big threat in Malaysia, expert warns. Subscribe