SUNGAI PETANI - A 23-year-old man died 12 hours after he and six of his siblings were hospitalised, because of suspected leptospirosis, a disease caused by exposure to rat urine.
Abu Hanifah Redzuan, a worker for a film production company in Kuala Lumpur, died at Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital here at 4.30pm on Saturday.
The victim and his siblings went to the hospital about 4am the same day after suffering from fevers for almost a week.
Also admitted were his younger sister Siti Zubaidah, 22; Firdaus, 20; Yunus, 18; Mohd Khidir, 17, and Ellayashaq, 13.
Abu Hanifah's elder brother, Nuruddin, 24, was admitted to Kepala Batas Hospital.
Siti Zubaidah said the siblings and other relatives swam in the river at the Lata Bayu recreational park in Baling, near here, on March 4.
"A few days after the trip, most of my siblings started suffering from fever, which we thought was normal.
"However, we suspected something amiss when the fever persisted for about a week."
Siti Zubaidah said Abu Hanifah was the worst affected, as he kept vomiting blood.
His brother, Khidir, experienced continuous headaches that had persisted over several days.
She also learned that two other relatives were admitted to Kepala Batas Hospital after suffering from fevers.
State Health Department director Dr Ismail Abu Taat confirmed that the siblings were admitted to the hospital on suspicion of leptospirosis.
Dr Ismail, however, could not confirm if that was the cause of Abu Hanifah's death, as the hospital was unable to run a test on his blood.
"However, the hospital has taken blood samples from the five siblings.
"The blood samples have been sent to our lab at Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital in Alor Star."
Asked if the department would temporarily close the recreational park, Dr Ismail said he needed to wait for the outcome of the blood tests.
"If the test proves that the siblings had indeed contracted leptospirosis, the department will inspect soil and water in the area," he said.
The Lata Bayu recreational park was closed temporarily after a civil servant died of the disease in 2010.