Health authorities confirm Rotavirus outbreak

Only a few people were at Bukit Merah Laketown Resort yesterday as news of the outbreak spread like wildfire. — Picture by Marcus Pheong
Only a few people were at Bukit Merah Laketown Resort yesterday as news of the outbreak spread like wildfire. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

IPOH, Oct 2 — Medical authorities confirmed a water-borne Rotavirus outbreak which triggered diarrhoea and vomiting among numerous visitors to the Bukit Merah Laketown Resort, and have assured all remedial measures were in places to tackle the virus.

The virus is the underlying factor behind gastroenteritis which is a very common condition triggered by a bacteria or viral tummy bug. This causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

The Ministry of Health disclosed that until noon yesterday there were 11 new acute gastroenteritis (AGE) cases reported, and all patients had been exposed to the resort and its surroundings. Six cases were reported in Kedah, three (Perak) and two (Penang).

“All these cases concerned patients aged between one and 30. Only two were treated as outpatients while the rest were admitted to the respective state hospitals,” director general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement.

All the patients were reported to be in stable condition. This brings to 46 the number of AGE cases reported in the country since Sept 24. All the patients had been visitors to the resort.

Of the 46 cases, 19 have been confirmed to be Rotavirus.

The bug or virus affects people of all ages, but is particularly common in young children. Most cases in children are caused by a virus called rotavirus while cases in adults are usually caused by norovirus (the “winter vomiting bug”) or bacterial food poisoning.

Acute gastroenteritis is described to be very unpleasant, but usually clears by itself within a week.

Dr Noor Hisham said of the 46 cases, the breakdown were as follows: Kedah 17 cases diagnosed AGE triggered by Rotavirus; Penang (10 AGE/six positive Rotavirus) and Perak (19 AGE and results still pending for Rotavirus tests).

Meanwhile, the Bukit Merah Laketown resort which was to have been a hive of activity with the weekend holidays and children making a beeline for the water theme park in Gunung Semanggol, was deserted with most of the rides and food stalls closed following the outbreak.

A check by Sunday Mail yesterday also found there was no queue at the ticketing counter. A staff manning the counter said prior to the outbreak, the resort would be filled with visitors, especially during weekends.

“But since news of the infection broke on Wednesday, people are cancelling their trips,” she said.

A souvenir shop operator said since Thursday, sales at her shop had dropped by 90 per cent.

“We decided to close for a day on Friday after the management told us that the water park would be closed for two days. But when we reopened yesterday, we were informed the water park would be closed until further notice,” she said, adding that this was the first time such an incident had occurred.

Factory worker Mohd Shaidi Nayan, 39, said his two daughters were disappointed they could not play in the water park.

“I booked for a weekend stay last week. Although there is no water park, we visited the orang utan island,” he said.

Teacher Saiful Anuar Abd Rahman, 34, said they learnt of the closure from the media.

“I am here with my family as my school is having a SPM workshop,” he said.

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