The Health Ministry has identified the 'mysterious illness', which has claimed the lives of 15 Orang Asli in Kg Kuala Koh in Gua Musang, Kelantan, as measles
"It has been officially confirmed that the Orang Asli in Kuala Koh, Gua Musang are infected with measles," the Ministry said in a Facebook statement released earlier today, 17 June.
"As of 15 June, 37 cases of measles have been confirmed through lab tests."
The disease claimed its 15th victim, a three-year-old toddler belonging to the Bateq tribe, yesterday.
The Health Ministry believes that the viral infection was able to spread quickly due to the villagers' limited protection against it
While 61.5% of the villagers received their first measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) shots, only 30% of them had their follow-up shots.
According to the MyHealth portal, Malaysians should receive two MMR shots: one at the age of nine months, and a second booster dose at the age of 12 months.
The Ministry faced difficulties administering the vaccine due to the tribe's nomadic lifestyle.
"Lack of nutrients also contributes to the risk of infection and complications," said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad in the statement.
In response to the outbreak, the Health Ministry has instructed all state health departments to increase its immunisation coverage for the Orang Asli communities
"The State Health Department should immediately report to the National Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) if there are such symptoms or deaths with similar symptoms," said Dr Dzulkefly.
The Royal Malaysia Police will also be monitoring the surrounding area of the village to ensure no outside parties will enter the area to prevent the spread of the disease.
While this measles outbreak was due to limited coverage, there are some Malaysians who believe vaccines are dangerous:
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