A housewife from Rembau, Negri Sembilan, was confirmed to be positive for diphtheria, making this the first diphtheria case involving adults in the country this year.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the victim, aged 41, began receiving treatment at the Rembau Health Clinic last Wednesday after she had a fever and complained of swollen tonsils, raspy voice and difficulty in swallowing.
"The victim was suspected to have diphtheria and was referred to the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital, Seremban where she was warded for treatment. Her condition is now stable.
"Laboratory tests conducted yesterday confirmed she contracted diphtheria. This is an isolated case and prophylaxis treatment has been given to all contacts of the victim, including family members and health and hospital staff," he said in a statement today.
Dr Noor Hisham said this brings the total number of diphtheria cases to 15 with Malacca having three cases with one death, Kedah (seven cases, one death), Sabah (four cases, three deaths) and Negri Sembilan one case.
At the same time, he said, one suspected diphtheria case involving an eight-year-old child was reported at Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital, Kota Baru today.
"The victim had fever, sore throat, swollen face and neck since Wednesday (July 13). The results of the laboratory tests have not been obtained, and the victim is in stable condition after being given anti-diphtheria treatment," he said.
Dr Noor Hisham said the Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacteria could affect the throats of adults or children, and could spread, affecting individuals whose health were not at optimum level.
"It could be spread through respiratory droplets and could put other people at risk, especially children who do not have strong resistance and those without antibodies because they have not been immunised or have been incompletely immunised," he said.
He urged parents to ensure that their children under seven years of age receive the complete five-immunisations.
That, he said, would improve the children's immunity as well as group immunity, thus controlling the incidence of diphtheria from becoming a problem to public health.