||NEWS : a) GASTROENTERITIS OUTBREAK
Written by Kuganathan V. Ramasamy
Recently, our nation was rocked with a sudden outbreak of gastroenteritis which centred in Perak. Over 2000 cases were reported in only two districts in the state alone. Worsening the unexpected sudden occurrence, there were deaths reported too. Most of the patients are aged 12 and below. The reported deaths were due to dehydration after being sick and they were not brought to any clinic or hospital for immediate treatment.
Well, complacency of the patient’s family aside, the more intriguing part is what caused the outbreak?? Well, the Ministry of Health reported that it was due to water contamination of the rotavirus. It was suspected that the source or sources were in the water treatment plants or the distribution channels along.
Now lets get to know some facts about rotavirus…of course not the MMB part of it…
Almost all kids have had a rotavirus infection by the time they're 5 years old. It is one of the most common causes of diarrhea, and severe infection (rotavirus gastroenteritis) is the leading cause of severe, dehydrating diarrhea in infants and young children. It is transmitted through hand-to-mouth contact with contaminated surfaces.
Kids with a rotavirus infection have fever, nausea, and vomiting, often followed by abdominal cramps and frequent, watery diarrhea. Kids may also have a cough and runny nose. As with all viruses, though, some rotavirus infections cause few or no symptoms, especially in adults.Sometimes the diarrhea that accompanies a rotavirus infection is so severe that it can quickly lead to dehydration. Signs of dehydration include: thirst, irritability, restlessness, lethargy, sunken eyes, a dry mouth and tongue, dry skin, fewer trips to the bathroom to urinate, and (in infants) a dry diaper for several hours.
There is no antiviral treatment for rotavirus. Treatment is usually focused on oral rehydration solutions – as most deaths from rotavirus is due to severe dehydration and organ failure – and probiotics, to reduce the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.
The virus is also extremely resilient, staying on surfaces for up to 10 days, and resistant towards ordinary hand soaps or mild disinfectants thus making alcohol-based disinfectants the best way to ensure hygiene.
In the wake of this sudden outbreak, a very important measure was suggested to curb the reoccurrence of such incidence. Of course the paediatricians were very vocal regarding this issue. They urged the MOH to make vaccination against the rotavirus compulsory under the national immunisation programme as statistics clearly shows how deadly it is.
Academy of Medicine of Malaysia College of Paediatrics president Prof Lee Way Seah and Asia-Pacific Paediatric Association president-elect Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail said two vaccines have been available in Malaysia since 2009 and proven to be safe and effective.
Klein J. Rotavirus [Internet]. [Place unknown]. KidsHealth from Nemours; 2009 [updated 2009 September]. Available from: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/stomach/rotavirus.html#