Perak sees more TB cases and deaths since 2015

By Sylvia Looi

TAIPING, April 20 — Eleven Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) students here have been diagnosed with tuberculosis as the state government expressed concern over the steady rise of the disease in Perak since 2015.

Health committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said the first case was reported last June, and the most recent case was on April 4.

“The 11 consisted of eight boys and three girls, all from Form Five,” he said during a visit to the hostel yesterday,

“One of them completed six months of treatment. The rest are responding well to treatment and they did not need to be isolated.”

Dr Mah said the state Health Department was “actively screening” the school and investigating the source of the contagious disease.

“The first student diagnosed with tuberculosis was a boy. None of his family members contracted the disease,” he said.

Calling it an outbreak at the hostel, Dr Mah said the school administrators were advised to improve ventilation in its dormitories.

There were 784 students at MRSM Taiping.

Dr Mah said Perak had recorded a steady increase of tuberculosis cases and deaths over the past two years.

Records showed:

― 2015: 1,657 cases, 64 deaths.

― 2016: 1,666 cases, 69 deaths.

“This year, we have already seen 453 people diagnosed with the disease and seven deaths,” he said.

He blamed the increase in cases on ignorance of parents who refused to immunise their children.

Dr Mah said 50 children in the state did not get vaccinated with the BCG vaccine last year.

He advised those suffering from persistent cough to immediately seek medical attention and treatment.

“Cover your mouth with tissue or a handkerchief when you cough,” he said.

On another matter, Dr Mah said 15 SMK Seri Perak students in Teluk Intan were being quarantined for influenza-like illness.

“There is nothing to panic as it’s a normal respiratory infection, it’s a common flu,” he said.

He said the state Health Department did not have plans to set up isolated wards to treat H1N1 cases.

“There are no reported cases of H1N1 in the state. It will only be a waste of time and manpower setting up isolated wards with no patients,” he said.