Sunday, June 16, 2013

Malaysia - Dengue fever claims second victim

A SECOND person has died after being infected by the dengue virus in the current epidemic, which has affected more than 9,200 people here so far.

The 60-year-old man was admitted on his second visit to Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s (TTSH) emergency department.

A joint statement from the Ministry of Health and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said he had gone to the hospital last Wednesday “with fever, shortness of breath, vomiting and a rash on his left leg”.

The man, who lived in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, was diagnosed with skin inflammation of the left leg. He was given antibiotics and told to go to a polyclinic for a blood test at a later date.

But he returned to TTSH late last Friday night when his leg got so weak that he could hardly stand on it.

He was still having fever and had no appetite.

He was sent to a general ward the next day and diagnosed with dengue. Within hours, his condition worsened, and he was transferred to the intensive care unit.

He died of dengue shock syndrome yesterday morning.

Last month, Mr Ang Yong Han, 20, became the first casualty in this year’s dengue epidemic, expected to be the biggest Singapore has ever experienced.

He had gone to TTSH’s emergency department, but was given some Panadol and told to see a doctor three days later if he still felt sick. But he was feeling so ill that he returned to TTSH three days later and was warded. He died two days after that.

A TTSH spokesman said the latest victim had “multi-organ failure and complications associated with abnormal heart rhythm”. At the time of admission, he also had blood poisoning and suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure.

During the 2005 epidemic – when 14,000 people were infected and 25 died – half the dengue sufferers were warded. In the current one, about one in four is being warded. Hospitals are being more stringent in who they admit, largely because experts feel most do not need such care, and possibly due to the bed crunch at public hospitals.

TTSH, for example, has occupancy rates of over 90%.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has said that should the need arise, hospitals will postpone non-urgent surgery to find beds for dengue patients.

Dr Lam Pin Min, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, said: “It is imperative that all health-care givers stay vigilant and take all febrile cases seriously.

“Early cases may be deceptive and passed off as a viral fever or influenza. The full-blown symptoms and signs may not appear till later stages.”

His advice is to return to hospital should their fever persist.

Although there is no existing dengue cluster near the dead man’s home, NEA said it is stepping up its control of mosquitoes in that area.

The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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