Malaysian TB outbreak claims 53 lives

Fifty-three people have died as a result of a tuberculosis outbreak in the Malaysian state of Johor in 2012 and authorities are asking those suffering from the disease to quickly seek treatment.

Robia Kosai, the committee chairman of the state Women, Family Health and Community Development Committee, said that the disease is now considered an outbreak. Since March, 497 cases have been reported, with 49 percent containing quickly-spreading and potentially deadly pulmonary TB, The Star and Asia News Network report.

"Last year, we recorded 2,038 cases and 93 percent of the patients had never contracted or suffered from TB before," Kosai said, according to The Star and Asia News Network. "This year, approximately 550 cases have been reported and 91 percent of the cases are new patients with 52 percent suffering from pulmonary TB."

There have been 246 cases this year in Johor Baru, Johor's capital city. Two deaths have been reported in the Muar district as a result of pulmonary TB in 2012. On Saturday, Kosai distributed aid to 213 villagers in Sungai Balang.

Kosai recommends that all sufferers who have had coughing for more than two months should visit their doctors to check for TB. Diabetic patients and senior citizens are the groups at the highest risk for TB complications.