JOHOR BARU - Health authorities have declared a dengue outbreak in the state.
The disease has claimed seven lives in the first six months of this year, a marked increase from the single fatality recorded in the state throughout last year.
Johor Health Department director Dr Mohd Khairi Yakub said the dengue outbreak was now at a dangerous level, with 1,660 cases recorded in the first half of the year, an increase of 96 per cent compared with the same period last year.
He said 27 dengue-prone areas, mostly here, had been identified, with at least two cases reported every week.
The seven deaths so far this year involved those aged between 15 and 79. Six of them were female.
The youngest victim, a 15-year-old girl, died on March 15, while her mother died the following day. They were from Kampung Dato Sulaiman Menteri here.
The oldest victim, a 79-year-old woman from Taman Dato Penggawa Barat, died on April 30.
The only male victim, 59 and from Bandar Baru Permas, died on Feb 5.
Asked about the contributing factors to the outbreak, Dr Khairi said one possibility was the increased number of dengue cases in Singapore, which appeared to have had a domino effect on Johor.
Singapore recorded its worst dengue statistics this year, with 11,592 cases recorded over the past six months, a 480 per cent increase from the 1,999 reported in the same period last year.
Dr Khairi said investigations were under way to establish if the victims in Johor had travelled to Singapore before being infected by the mosquito-borne dengue virus.
"The Johor Health Department is educating people to zero in on dengue-breeding grounds and encouraging more to join the Communication for Behavioural Impact (Combi) teams."
Combi is the government's initiative to raise public awareness about dengue prevention.
Dr Khairi, who was at a Combi gotong royong at Larkin Plaza on Sunday, said the state Health Department was giving guidance to 200 Combi groups.