Health minister verifies Kuala Koh Orang Asli hit by measles outbreak

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said Health Ministry laboratory results as at June 15 confirmed that 37 people from the same Gua Musang village tested positive for measles. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said Health Ministry laboratory results as at June 15 confirmed that 37 people from the same Gua Musang village tested positive for measles. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — The mystery ailment afflicting dozens of Batek Orang Asli in Kuala Koh, Kelantan has turned out to be measles.

Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said Health Ministry laboratory results as at June 15 confirmed that 37 people from the same Gua Musang village tested positive for measles.

“The main factor that has caused the spread of measles among the Orang Asli in Kg Kuala Koh is the low coverage of MMR immunisation among them,” he was quoted by The Star daily as saying in a press conference at Putrajaya today.

MMR refers to measles, mumps and rubella for which most Malaysians are inoculated in their childhood.

“Only 61.5 per cent have received their first dose of MMR vaccine and 30 per cent have received their second dose.”

The minister attributed the relatively low immunisation rate among the Batek Orang Asli in the area to their nomadic lifestyle.

He said his ministry has dealt with 112 measles cases in the village since early June with official deaths at three so far, though it believes the other 15 fatalities may be related.

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