Now 11 Orang Asli in Pahang, Terengganu down with measles

Orang Asli from the Bateq tribe in Kampung Kuala Koh, Gua Musang don masks as a precaution. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The health ministry has received reports of measles cases involving Orang Asli from Hulu Terengganu in Terengganu and Jerantut in Pahang.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said 11 cases had been confirmed as measles through laboratory tests. Nine others are being monitored.

There were 12 cases from Kampung Gerdong in Hulu Terengganu and eight from Kampung Ulu Sat in Jerantut.

“Initial investigations have found that the Orang Asli in Hulu Terengganu were in contact with the Orang Asli Bateq community or had movement history to Kuala Koh in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

“As for clusters in Jerantut, there is a history of movement of the Orang Asli community to Kampung Gerdong,” Dzulkefly told reporters after launching the Mental Health Experiential Conference 2019.

He said that case detection and monitoring of the health status of the population were continuing.

The ministry had earlier identified the disease affecting the Orang Asli of Kampung Kuala Koh in Gua Musang as measles.

Meanwhile, Dzulkefly expressed hope that the measles breakout in Kampung Kuala Koh would serve as a wake-up call for those who were “educated” and objecting to vaccinations.

“Up to June 17, the Kelantan State Health Department had detected 113 cases with respiratory tract symptoms in Kampung Kuala Koh, with three deaths.

“Two out of the three deaths were reported previously to the ministry. Of these, 37 cases have been confirmed as measles through laboratory tests.

“As of June 17, a total of 52 people are still being treated in hospitals – 49 in the ordinary ward and three in the Intensive Care Unit.

“A total of 20 people with mild symptoms are in the Orang Asli Health House (RIKA) in Gua Musang,” he said.

The third death was that of a two-and-a-half year old Bateq boy from Kampung Orang Asli Kuala Koh, who died on June 16 at Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital from measles, pneumonia and multi-organ failure.

“He had been suffering from symptoms of fever and cough for a week with diarrhoea for four days.

“He was brought for early treatment at the health clinic and was referred to the Kuala Krai Hospital for further treatment. He was transferred to receive treatment at ICU Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II on June 9.”

He said although intensive care was given, the boy died, adding that malnutrition was a factor in the complications caused by measles.

According to Dzulkefly, with the help of the police, another 12 bodies have been recovered and are undergoing post-mortem.

Asked if there were plans to quarantine the Orang Asli in the three areas, Dzulkefly said there was none at the moment.

“It is not easy to carry out a quarantine on the community as they are nomadic people and they do not welcome the idea of consolidating everyone in a certain area.

“For now, all three locations of the Orang Asli community have been cordoned off to prevent any travelling so as to reduce the spread of the disease,” he said.