The worst of our fears has finally happened. Zika is in Malaysia, as officially announced by the Minister of Health, Yang Berhormat Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam. In a statement, he announced that a 58 years-old woman residing in Bandar Botanic, Klang, Selangor, who is the mother of a female confirmed with Zika infection in Singapore is infected with the virus while visiting the island republic.
In Singapore, about 115 cases of Zika have been recorded so far. With the first Malaysian case, it has become imperative that the Malaysian Government to realign the strategies that are currently being used to combat Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, the two vectors of this horrific disease. EntoGenex Industries Sdn Bhd has previously created a solution that is proven to be effective to combat the Zika vectors, MOUSTICIDE RH and MOUSTICIDE WP.
Other than Singapore and Malaysia, Zika infection also have been reported in Thailand and Vietnam, turning this into an ASEAN problem.
While EntoGenex applauds the efforts by the Ministry of Health to contain the infection by starting vector control activities in the residential area of the case and other places that the patient had visited, the current method of controlling mosquitoes including larviciding using temephos and fogging is proven to be futile, as cases of dengue fever continue to soar in Malaysia. In 2015, a historic 120,000 cases of dengue were recorded in Malaysia, and that number continues to rise this year.
To make things worse, a previous dengue infection may enhance a Zika infection in the same person. Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, programme leader of the antimicrobial resistance programme at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health in Singapore has said that the presence of dengue antibodies “resulted in the enhancement of Zika infection in cell lines. These results seem to suggest that prior infection with dengue may result in greater vulnerability to Zika infection.”
The Zika virus has also known to be passed down from the adult mosquitoes to the larvae. Robert Tesh, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, injected Zika virus into adult female mosquitoes. He has found that one in every 290 Aedes aegypti offspring were infected with the virus. Other studies has also shown that mosquito larvae has also have developed a resistance towards Temephos, a commonly used larvicide.
KOMUNITI BEBAS DENGGI REDUCED DENGUE CASES BY 54.7 PERCENT
Previously, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) has launched an RM37.6 million flagship programme to combat mosquito borne diseases, that culminates in the Komuniti Bebas Denggi (KBD) programme that was rolled out in 30 hotspots around Malaysia. This program has successfully reduced dengue cases in 13 closely monitored hotspots in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Johor by 54.7 percent over a three-month implementation period (see attachment 1).
The backbone of this success was the use of EntoGenex’s innovations including a biolarvicide called MOUSTICIDE RH and MOUSTICIDE WP which was developed with the support from MOSTI. The active ingredients in these products are made from a combination of the Trypsin Modulating Oostatic Factor (TMOF), a mosquito protein which starves mosquito larvae to death, and Bti which punctures the gut of the larvae. This combination is proven to be 35 times more effective compared to the usage of Bti alone. Mosquitoes also are unable to develop resistance towards TMOF as it was derived from the mosquitoes themselves.
While MOSTI is taking a proactive stance to fight mosquito borne diseases, it is quite disheartening to see the custodians of public health is ignoring new innovations that have been introduced into the market.
YAM Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Jaafar, Executive Chairman of EntoGenex Industries Sdn Bhd said, “The time has come for everyone, from the citizens on the ground, to the government agencies to take charge and realign the strategies to control mosquitoes.”
“As traditional methods have not shown any significant impact, we believe that this realignment must take into account different methodologies and technologies that are available to us. MOUSTICIDE was proven effective in both laboratory and field testing. Added to the fact that mosquitoes cannot develop resistance towards this product, and the increasing resistance towards temephos, we believe that MOUSTICIDE is the way of the future to control mosquito population,” he added.
As such, EntoGenex calls upon the government to take into account all available methods on hand to control mosquitoes, including using MOSTI innovations such as MOUSTICIDE. Zika is not a small matter as it can have massive implications on the quality of life of the rakyat. It is time for the Ministry of Health to start recognising MOSTI innovations and stop the bureaucracy where the public health is concerned.
There is no time to waste, action has to be taken now.