(File pix) Unkempt villages like this are potential hotspots for a leptospirosis outbreak.

THE post-mortem on Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gadaffi, 11, who died on April 26 after being allegedly abused at a tahfiz school in Johor, has indicated that the cause of death was  due to leptospirosis infection, a disease known to be brought about by rat urine.

It is important for the authorities,  namely the police and health departments, to investigate the matter, especially how the disease could have been transmitted to the victim.

Leptospirosis is a dangerous disease and a public health problem worldwide.

In Malaysia,  an increasing number of reported cases and outbreaks have resulted in deaths.

There have been reported cases involving people who were infected after visiting recreational areas.

A single gulp of water from a contaminated river, pond or waterfall, or coming into contact with contaminated soil or swimming in contaminated water spots with open wounds can expose people to the fatal disease.

Medical studies have shown that leptospirosis in humans can cause a range of symptoms. But, some infected people may show no symptoms, rendering early treatment difficult.

Leptospirosis is said to begin with a fever accompanied by chills, intense headache, severe abdominal and muscle ache, red eyes and, occasionally, a rash.

The classic form of severe leptospirosis is characterised by liver damage, kidney failure and bleeding. The infection is often misdiagnosed due to its non-specific symptoms.

Thus, it is crucial for the authorities to conduct further investigations based on Thaqif’s post-mortem report. They must trace activities prior to his death that could have exposed him to the disease. Legal action must be taken against those responsible for causing the infection to happen.

There is a great need to better control and prevent the disease from spreading as stipulated under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342), which has gazetted leptospirosis as a notifiable disease since December 2010.

The public must be educated on the disease and reminded to take care of their health.

DR MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW

Faculty of Syariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia,
Nilai, Negri Sembilan

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