Typhoid on the rise in KL

PETALING JAYA - Typhoid fever cases have seen a sudden spike in the country with 32 cases reported in Kuala Lumpur since August, and the Health Ministry is rushing to find the source of the infection.

In a statement, director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that since the first week of August, the Kuala Lumpur Health Department had received seven cases of typhoid fever.

According to him, those stricken were mostly construction workers living in Cheras and near the city centre. By Oct 18, the number of cases was up to 32 with Titiwangsa having the most at 16, followed by Kepong (eight), Lembah Pantai (four) and Cheras (eight). No deaths have been reported.

"The Kuala Lumpur Health Department is conducting an epidemiology probe to find the reason behind the infection," he said.

"On the ground, checks are not able to summarise the reason behind the infection or the type of food taken because there were no similarities in those cases," he said.

More than 37 contract workers, comprising family members, colleagues and food vendors, have been monitored and 24 food premises checked.

"Seventy-nine faeces samples and four drinking water samples were taken to identify the presence of the bacteria. So far, none of the samples were reported positive for Salmonella typhi," Dr Noor added.

"Checks are also being done at ice distributor factories. Surveillance and control activities involving water supply system have also been conducted to ensure that the water quality in Kuala Lumpur is good," said Dr Noor Hisham.

The ministry urged the people to give full priority to the cleanliness level of food and drinks, the restaurants and their workers, adding that "food that is freshly cooked should be their main choice".

"Personal hygiene should be a priority, especially washing your hands before and after eating and after you go to toilet. Get early treatment if you are suffering any symptoms," advised the ministry.

Typhoid fever is caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi and is spread by eating food or water contaminated with excreta from an infected person. The symptoms include abdominal pain, fever, headache and fatigue.

Older children and adults are usually constipated whereas younger children may have diarrhoea. Humans are the only species affected by typhoid.