Current dengue spate in Malaysia due to normal major outbreak cycle

PETALING JAYA - The current dengue situation is the result of a normal major outbreak cycle and dengue patients should use repellents to prevent mosquitoes from biting them and infecting others, said a professor of virology.

Universiti Malaya dengue expert Prof Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar said there was a major dengue outbreak once every three, seven or eight years.

The current outbreak was a result of this normal major outbreak cycle.

He added that from 2007 to 2010, there had been one major outbreak involving over 45,000 cases, while in 2011 and 2012, the number of infections decreased significantly to less than 25,000 cases.

"The infection rate started to go up at the end of last year," he said when contacted.

The Health Ministry has stated that an outbreak occurs when there are two dengue cases within 14 days in an operational area such as a village or housing area.

Dr Sazaly advised people who were suffering from dengue fever to use mosquito nets or mosquito repellents.

"If people have dengue fever, they need to make sure that no mosquitoes bite them.

"Otherwise, the whole family can get infected when the mosquito that bites the infected person subsequently bites the rest of the family.

"That is the easiest way to stop the outbreak," he said, adding that there had been many cases of whole families being infected when one family member was initially infected.

Asked if people should visit dengue patients in hospital, he said they could but that both patients and visitors should use mosquito repellent as protection.

Dr Sazaly also warned that those who had dengue fever were likely to develop a more severe form of the disease in future and they should take the necessary precautions.

"They should protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes by not going out at dusk or dawn. If they need to go out, then they should use a mosquito repellent.

"They should also avoid wearing dark clothes as mosquitoes are more attracted to those colours.

"Bathing after running up a good sweat is also another prevention because mosquitoes are attracted to sweaty odour," he said.