Health Ministry investigators looking into the unexplained death of 14 orang asli (native people) in the Kelantan area are reporting today that both tuberculosis and leptospirosis have been ruled out as possible causes of death.
The Batek native community that live in a village in Kuala Koh in the northeastern state have been affected by what Malay-language daily Sinar Harian has called a “mysterious disease,” with over a dozen dead, 49 individuals receiving in-patient treatment, with one person in an intensive care unit, and another 47 getting out-patient treatment from medical staff.
Sususlan kejadian kluster jangkitan saluran penafasan dalam kalangan orang asli Kuala Koh, saya hadir untuk melihat…
Health Minister Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad today in a live-streamed press conference on Facebook, said that there was a chance that individuals who have fallen ill in the community could have both a bacterial infection, and a secondary viral sickness. Investigators have taken fingernail samples from victims in an attempt to discover what has led to the sudden spate of pulmonary illness.
Adding that the area was used for manganese mining, the minister said that the health epidemic could have been caused by its after effects.
Villagers have long suspected that their source of water, a pond in the village, was the source of their health woes.
Thirteen of the victims were initially confirmed by locals, with a fourteenth individual having been found near a mining area over the weekend.
As it stands, the Health Ministry has only confirmed two deaths, after locals reportedly buried the others. Dr. Dzulkefly has said that there is a possibility that the bodies may be exhumed, should initial tests prove inconclusive.