Typhoid outbreak in Malaysia leads health ministry to advise 'eat hot and freshly cooked food'

PETALING JAYA - The Health Ministry has advised the public to eat only hot and freshly-cooked food in clean eateries, as the number of typhoid fever cases has risen to 52.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said three new cases in Kuala Lumpur and one in Selangor, had raised the total number of typhoid fever cases to 37 and 15 respectively.

He said nine patients were still warded at government hospitals, including one in Kelantan and another in Kedah.

Stressing that the cases were so far traced only to eateries in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, Dr Noor said the Kedah and Kelantan patients were working in the affected areas.

"Until now, there are no typhoid fever cases reported in other states, including those with history of eating in Kuala Lumpur," he said in a statement yesterday.

Following the first batch of typhoid cases recorded in August, the ministry has intensified enforcement activities to compel food outlet operators and handlers to observe stringent hygienic practices.

"Of the 304 food premises checked, 31 were ordered to be closed and 16 others have been slapped with compound notices for breaching Food Hygiene Regulation 2009," he said.

The ministry is also waiting for laboratory results of the clinical samples collected from 1,394 food handlers.

"Food handlers must be vaccinated against typhoid fever, and must undergo food handling training at the training centres approved by the ministry.

"Food outlet operators will also be slapped with compound notices under the Food Act 1983 if they failed to vaccinate food handlers against typhoid," he added.

The ministry also reminded food handlers to observe stringent personal hygiene, including washing hands and ensuring food safety and cleanliness.

Information on typhoid fever and prevention is available at myHealthy.gov.my and www.infosihat.gov.my

Although there were no typhoid-related deaths reported in Malaysia so far this year, the public should remain vigilant, as foreign scientists had raised a global health alert on a lethal strain of multi-drug resistant typhoid spreading across Asia and Africa.

The Daily Mirror quoted University of Melbourne researcher Dr Kathryn Holt as saying the multi-drug resistant typhoid had been detected on and off since the 1970s.