KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — Health authorities confirmed today that 15 Japanese encephalitis (JE) cases have been reported nationwide from January to July 13 this year, including three deaths.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said out of the 15 JE cases, four were from Sabah, but no increase was found this year as five JE cases were reported in the same period in Sabah last year.
“All these cases are sporadic and no JE epidemic has been reported,” Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement.
His statement came after Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported Sabah Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Junz Wong as saying that a child was infected with JE at Kampung Lubong in Tambunan, Sabah.
An infected human develops inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and suffers symptoms; sudden onsets of headache, high fever, neck stiffness, etc.
Dr Noor Hisham said, however, that the latest JE case involved a 20-year-old from Tambunan on July 12, who is currently receiving treatment at Hospital Keningau.
“The JE case as mentioned by FMT involving a seven-year-old child from Taman Sentoria, Kota Samarahan Sarawak, is a 2017 case and it is not a JE case.”
The JE virus can be passed on to humans by infected animals or livestock through an infected Culex mosquito.
According to FMT, the Tambunan Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) team said seven traditional pig breeders were found at the village with a total of 80 pigs in the farms, after the latest JE case in Tambunan.
Sabah Health and Well-being Minister Frankie Poon is currently waiting for details from the state health director.
The Sarawak health department insists that the public take extra precaution after five cases of JE were confirmed in the state.