Stay away from streams

As reported in The Star,

Infection kills seventh victim
By ROSLINA MOHAMAD
roslina@thestar.com.my

KUANTAN: A Fire and Rescue personnel involved in the search and rescue operation in Lubuk Yu in Maran late last month has become the seventh person to die of bacterial infection.

Mohd Nor Abidin Ismail, 50, with the Jengka Fire and Rescue station was infected with two different strains of bacteria – melioidiosis, a water and earth-borne bacteria, and leptospirosis, which is present in rat urine.

Leptospirosis is nothing new to Malaysia. Cases are abundant in our local hospitals. It usually results after individuals have gone swimming in our streams and rivers. Unfortunately many of these individuals are young school going children. Some of these swimming spots are renowned picnic sites.

We know that leptospirosis is transmitted through rodent excrements. When an individual goes swimming, swallowing contaminated waters or the contact with broken skin or mucous membranes, can enable the bacteria to enter our bodies resulting in sometimes fatal infections!

There is a need for local authorities to monitor the situation in the water especially in favourite picnic spots. This may not be a fool-proof way as well. As a result, the best way to avoid exposing ourselves to leptospirosis is staying away from the waters. Swimming in areas at higher altitudes above the zone where rodents prowl may be a solution in reducing the risk of leptospirosis.

Otherwise we will continue to see steady streams of patients with leptospira infection.