GEORGE TOWN, July 4 ― The three cases of Japanese Encephalitis in Penang come from different areas in the state, Penang state executive councillor for health Dr Afif Bahardin said today, suggesting that the infections did not come from a common source.
Two cases come from George Town and Bagan Jermal in north Seberang Perai. In the third case infection is believed to have happened in Tasek Gelugor.
“There are no abattoirs or pig farms in George Town and Bagan Jermal,” Dr Alif told a press conference today.
Pigs are reservoirs for the virus that causes the disease but the Culex mosquito is responsible for passing the virus from pigs to humans.
He said Penang will take steps to quarantine farms in which pigs test positive for the virus.
For now, the most important step is to conduct fogging to get rid of mosquitoes,
Dr Afif said that although pigs are reservoirs for the JE virus, other animals can also be reservoirs such as wild birds, horses, buffaloes and even chicken.
Nevertheless, test samples have been taken from 20 pig farms in Kampung Selamat, Tasek Gelugor which are within 1km radius from the school where the 12-year-old boy contracted the disease.
The results are expected today.
Dr Afif also expressed concerns that the Health Ministry and the State Health Department did not inform the state government, the veterinary department and the local councils about the disease quickly.
Cases of dengue, a disease also spread by mosquitoes, are rising, he said.
In the first half of the year dengue cases in Penang rose 175 per cent from the corresponding period in 2013, he added.
For the country as a whole dengue cases rose 246 per cent during the same period.
“Even deaths due to dengue have increased nationally from 27 deaths last year to 85 deaths this year,” he said.
He added that the number of deaths in Penang remained at three.