14-Month-Old Baby In Johor Bahru Died Because Her Parents Didn't Want To Vaccinate Her

It started with a fever and sore throat.

Cover image via The Straits Times

A 14-month-old baby died from diphtheria in Johor Bahru on Monday, 15 October

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Image via Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah/Twitter

Bernama reported Health director-general Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah as saying yesterday that the baby girl had never been immunised for the disease because her parents were anti-vaccine.

It took the mother a week before she sought treatment for her baby's fever and sore throat

"The child started out having fever and sore throat on 4 October and was taken to a private clinic by her mother for initial treatment on 11 October. The next day, the child was taken to the emergency unit of a hospital after having breathing difficulties and loss of appetite," revealed Noor Hisham.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Free Malaysia Today

Two days later, the baby girl was admitted into the paediatric ward's intensive care unit as she had become weaker and needed respiratory aid.

She eventually succumbed to severe diphtheria and failure of multiple organs on 15 October.

Diphtheria is an infection caused by a bacteria named corynebacterium diphtheriae, which forms a layer in the throat

Image via The Hindu

Beginning with a sore throat, diphtheria could lead to bacteremia and endocarditis complications, which could be fatal.

"Efforts to contain the spread of this infection include actively looking for cases at residential areas where cases are reported, giving immunisation, and health education," Noor Hisham said. 

As of yesterday, no new cases of diphtheria have been reported to the Health Ministry.

In 2016, two Malaysian children died from diphtheria within a month because their parents believed that vaccines contained elements of pig DNA

The Straits Times reported in 2016 that while diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial disease, childhood immunisation is not compulsory in Malaysia

Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak had voiced out on the anti-vaccine movement then.

"All these efforts (national immunisation programme) will be a waste if there are among us those who spread rumours that raise doubts about vaccine inoculations and immunisation," Najib was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.

Infectious diseases such as diphtheria could be prevented through immunisation. Refer to this schedule for your child's vaccination:

Anti-vaccine is not a new phenomenon in Malaysia. Read more about it here:

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