KUALA LUMPUR: Rat urine infection is endemic in Malaysian society, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Hilmi Yahaya.
“By endemic, it means that it has always been around in our society, especially in rural areas,” he told reporters at a press conference after launching Bernama’s “The Biggest Loser” programme for their journalists.
Earlier today, Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid ordered schools nationwide to suspend all water-based co-curricular activities with immediate effect following the death of a teacher from rat urine infection in Kedah yesterday.
The temporary suspension would be enforced while a study is conducted by a special committee from the education ministry on the issue.
Meanwhile, Dr Hilmi advised the public to exercise caution when visiting popular tourist attraction sites as rat urine infection is particularly common in these areas.
“People tend to leave (food) leftovers when visiting these areas and these leftovers attract the rats. This will cause infections to spread.”
Hilmi also urged parents to be more observant for symptoms of rat urine infection, as it can be cured if detected immediately.
“But if the symptoms go on for too long, it could destroy the immune system.
“So, if the kids catch fever two to three days after camping, please get them checked at the nearest hospital as soon as possible.”
Yesterday, Mohd Yusri Yaccob, a teacher at SMK Tunku Seri Indera Putera, Ayer Hitam, died at the Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah after he was believed to have contracted leptospirosis.
He had reportedly visited Sungai Ketil on July 15, along with several other teachers and students for kayaking and mountain-climbing activities in the area.
The disease is often transmitted by animal urine, by water or soil containing animal urine coming into contact with breaks in the skin, eyes, mouth, or nose. Signs and symptoms can include headaches, muscle pains and fever.