KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Chemical pollution in Pasir Gudang may not necessarily have caused a boy to suffer from myokymia, health authorities said.
Bernama reported Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad as saying that he would visit 12-year-old Irfan Wafiy’s family with neurologists to seek an explanation for the child’s Parkinson-like condition.
“Do not misunderstand. When people hear myokymia, they assume it is from chemicals. It is not necessarily so because there are many possible causes of the disease. It would be a problem if the public did not understand it,” Dzulkefly was quoted saying in Port Dickson Saturday after launching a “My Health Village” programme there.
Dzulkefly reportedly said Irfan Wafiy would be treated by a neurologist paediatrician.
Irfan Wafiy’s family has blamed their child’s condition on exposure from air pollution caused by the dumping of toxic waste into Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor, last March.
Dzulkefly also denounced any mass hysteria in the Pasir Gudang schools in the latest incident of breathing difficulties and nausea that sickened 1,138 people as of July 5, since the illness began last June 20.
According to the minister, 231 students suffered from anxiety, out of which 22 were referred to family medicine experts and psychiatrists.
“Based on the history of exposure, incident, school distribution, and psychosocial evaluation, no mass psychogenic hysteria was detected,” he said.
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye also reportedly said no evidence proved a link between the river pollution and Irfan Wafiy’s myokymia.
He reportedly said the 12-year-old had been born prematurely and suffered from fits since he was four.
“He was assessed by a paediatric neurologist. There’s been no evidence so far to show it is related to the incident,” Dr Lee was quoted telling reporters in Gopeng Saturday.
“We know that myokymia is a disease that can be caused due to a brain tumour, brain infection or injury.”
In a Bernama report, Irfan Wafiy’s mother Norlela Abu Hashim, 45, claimed that prior to the Sungai Kim Kim pollution in the Johor constituency last March, her son had been an active child who enjoyed running and swimming. Today, he needs assistance to walk.
He was admitted to the Sultan Ismail Hospital following breathing difficulties. He was suspected to have been exposed to poisonous gases while at school. During his 10-day hospitalisation, his health deteriorated.
A referral to specialists at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital found that Irfan Wafiy was positive for myokymia, possibly caused by sniffing poisonous gases which resulted in his lungs starting to fail.
Authorities have yet to uncover the cause of the latest health incident in Pasir Gudang.