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KUALA LUMPUR

In a biological control initiative, Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) will be used more widely in dengue hot spots in the country to control the epidemic that is spiraling into a critical level.

Bti, which is a type of bacteria, is sprayed on mosquito breeding grounds and is subsequently eaten by the mosquitoe larvae. Once inside the larvae, the bacteria would produce a toxin that will kill the larvae from within.

The Health Ministry said the method only targeted mosquitoes and had no effect on humans.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, said the method would complement the normal chemical fogging that uses insecticide sprays.

He said Bti had been used sparingly before but would be used more widely following the recent rise of dengue cases.

“When Bti is sprayed, there will be visible residue that looks like dust. This is normal and not dangerous to human,” he said after making rounds at Mentari Court in PJU 8, one of the areas with the highest number of recorded dengue cases in the country.

Two hundred nurses from the ministry were also present. They went from house to house to educate the residents on dangers of dengue.

Subramaniam said there are other mechanisms which were being used to combat dengue, including abate powder to stop breeding of larvae.

Another method is the autocidal trap, which traps and kills larvae and adult mosquitoes.

Subramaniam urged local authorities and state governments to pay more attention to this epidemic.

“We have spoken to the management of the flats and were informed that many residents do not pay their maintenance bills. The management does not have enough funds to clean the common areas and curb the breeding of aedes mosquitoes.

“Local authorities have to play a more active role in managing these types of medium and low-cost flats and apartments.”

He said Mentari Court management would be issued a compound despite their excuses.

In 2013, 15,359 compounds were issued amounting to RM7,679,500 in fines and there were 714 court cases, resulting in RM292,120 in fines.

Barely two months into 2014, 859 compounds had been issued amounting to RM429,500 in fines.

He said the close proximity of people living in flats like Mentari Court made the spreading of dengue easier.

“The mosquito can bite someone two doors away who has dengue and fly over to the next house and bite someone there as well,” he said.

The ministry highlighted that this year there were 10,712 cases of dengue cases reported as of Feb 6, compared with 2,836 cases in the same period last year. This is a 277% increase.

During the same period there had been 19 deaths this year compared with eight last year which shows an increase of 137 per cent.

According to the ministry, Mentari Court 1 (Block A, B, C, D) in PJS 8 is one of the most critical hot spots. The epidemic here has lasted for 8 months since June 17, 2013, recording 152 cases.

Section 7 Shah Alam Flat A (Block 1 – Block 12 and Block 38 – 43) is the biggest hot spot in the country, recording a staggering 204 cases in 209 days.

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