No plan to implement nationwide release of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes: Minister

IPOH: The health ministry has no plans to implement method mosquito release containing micro-organism 'Wolbachia' in dengue-affected areas nationwide, says minister, Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam (pix).

He said the pilot project currently implemented in Selangor involving areas in Section 7, Shah Alam and AU2, Keramat was still in the trial period to understand the behaviour of the disease-spreading mosquito species on whether that could reduce dengue cases in this country.

"This is because we are doing it on a trial basis until the end of next month at the two areas in Selangor before following up on the result.

"Once we know the result of its effectiveness and the challenges, only then will we be able to arrive at a decision on whether it is useful to release it ('Wolbachia') to all," he told reporters after visiting the Klinik Kesihatan Buntong here today.

Dr Subramaniam said it would be continued if capable of controlling the dengue fever, especially in areas where the disease was recorded.

The minister said the dengue epidemic was predicted to increase around July or August this year.

He said Selangor recorded the highest dengue fever cases at 7,355 cases, including 12 deaths during the Jan 1-Feb 2 period, followed by Johor (2,379) cases.

The deployment of the 'Wolbachia' micro-organism was introduced in January last year by the Institute for Medical Research, in collaboration with Lancaster University, United Kingdom.

Last year, Health Director-General Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was quoted saying that injecting the Wolbachia micro-organism into the Aedes Aegypti mosquito eggs was seen as a method to prevent the spread of the dengue virus among humans.

He had said the eggs did not carry the dengue virus and thus, prevented the spread of dengue.

On leptospirosis infection, Subramaniam said the ministry will update from time to time on the situation in Tanah Merah, Kelantan.

Last Saturday, three people in Kelantan had contracted the disease due to the recent floods in the district.

The three were among six people admitted to the Tanah Merah Hospital on suspicion of having contracted a mysterious viral disease after attending a family gathering in Kajang, Selangor.

It had been reported that 40 people were initially quarantined at the hospital on suspicion of having contracted the viral disease after the visit to Kajang.

A 59-year-old man had died but the cause of death had yet to be ascertained as the man had also suffered from other ailments. — Bernama