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May 21, 2013
By : M. Hamzah Jamaludin | hamzah@nst.com.my

Leptospirosis victims cannot forget Lubuk Yu incident

MARAN: The recent fatal case of leptospirosis in Baling, Kedah has evoked painful memories among the people here whose family members died of the bacterial infection three years ago.

Leptospirosis victims cannot forget Lubuk Yu incident

The eight victims were involved in a search operation  between June 26 and June 30 for a picnicker who had  drowned at the Lubuk Yu waterfall near here.

 "I know how the victim's family feel as I had gone through  it before," said Tan Kim Wah, who has yet to come to terms  with the death of her 29-year-old son, Timothy Hoo Seng  Hing.

 Tan, 56, admitted that although the incident was high lighted by the media, many people were still unaware of the  bacterial infection that came from rat urine.

 "The public should immediately seek treatment if they  were down with flu-like symptoms after they returned from a  waterfall or a river," said Tan who was appointed as the new  village head after the former head, Lim Sin Lai, died of the  infection.

Apart from Hoo and Lim, others who died were firefighter  Mohd Nor Abidin Ismail, 50; Felda Jengka 17 settler Azizam  Abdullah,58; his two relatives Zakaria Ayob, 52 and Mohd  Fadli Hassan,40; and villagers Mohd Shah, 60 and  Zainal  Abidin Ismail, 56.

Azizam was the father of the youth who drowned at the  waterfall on June 26,

Tan, who was also infected at that time, said it was  important to get immediate treatment.

"Unlike my son, I was lucky because the doctors gave me  antibiotic through intravenous drip. The symptoms are  similar to flu such as severe headache, high fever and aching  joints," said the mother of five.

She also advised the public to always boil water especially  if they took it from a river or natural sources.

Lim's son, 28-year-old Cin Peng said his father was also  infected although he did not enter the water during the  search and rescue operation.

"He was there for two days and could have contracted the  disease from the contaminated soil," he said.

After the incident, the state Health Department closed the  waterfall and checked 70 other people who were involved in  the search and rescue operation.

Although some quarters claimed the deaths were caused  by a mysterious ailment, the Health Ministry later confirmed  that they died due to leptospirosis and melioidosis, which was  caused by a type of bacteria from contaminated water and  soil.

A 52-member team from six government departments in  Pahang cleaned up the waterfall area before it was declared  safe in November, 2010.

Meanwhile, State Health director Dr Norhizan Ismail said  the people in the state should not panic as to date, the department did not receive any report on the disease since  the Lubuk Yu incident.

However, he advised the public to always maintain hygiene  when having activities at such recreational areas.