PETALING JAYA: With almost half of foreign workers failing their medical tests found to be infected with the highly contagious tuberculosis (TB), doctors are raising the alarm over the presence of some three million to six million illegals here.
Malaysian Medical Association president Dr H. Krishna Kumar said illegal foreign workers, who were not screened at all, were the biggest cause for the rise in TB cases.
Although most Malaysians were vaccinated against the disease, those with chronic diseases such as severe diabetes or dengue were in danger, and likely to be infected, he said.
“Those who know they are ill and cannot come in through the legal channel will choose to come in illegally.
“Because those who come in illegally are not screened, they are walking around and spreading the diseases to people here and this is very frightening.
“This is where enforcement by the Immigration Department is so important,” he said when contacted here yesterday.
As most foreign workers here tend to live in large groups within confined areas, Dr Krishna Kumar said the risk of diseases spreading was high.
“If a group of legal and illegal foreign workers are staying in close proximity, the legal workers are exposed as well. And they are in contact with the rest of the country’s workforce,” he said.
Healthy and immunised Malaysians, he said, were usually safe from TB but those with chronic diseases such as severe diabetes or dengue were more susceptible.
Those with more exposure to infected persons also had higher chances of getting infected, said Dr Krishna Kumar.
“As most of us have gotten our vaccinations, we do not get the typical TB. We can get it in our kidneys, intestines and even reproductive organs,” he said.