Asthmatic patients constitute up to 5% of admissions to medical wards in our area. Analysis of 1099 adult asthmatic admissions over a 3-year period showed that Malays composed 31% of patients (expected 23%), Indians composed 36% (expected 31%) and Chinese only 32% (expected 46%). There was a reduced prevalence of asthma in the Chinese (P less than 0.001). Male asthmatic admissions showed a non-seasonal cyclic variation (P less than 0.01) with an increasing trend in the number of admissions (P less than 0.02). The proportion of male to female asthmatic admissions did not differ. In a sample of 50 asthmatic patients, studied in detail, the mean age of onset was 33.3 years (range 6-74) while only 14% of subjects had onset of asthma before the age of 10 years. Although the clinical features of these patients differ from those of Caucasian asthmatics, skin prick tests and other features suggest that the majority of our patients suffer from extrinsic atopic asthma.
Study site: Hospital [unknown], Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
A survey of 227 patients from 5-60 years of age revealed the presence of positive histoplasmin skin tests in 10.5 per cent. and positive complement-fixation tests in 19-8 per cent. Sputum from 13 of the 37 patients who had a positive complement-fixation test were cultured for H. capsulatum but with negative results. Exposure to infection by the fungus is equally distributed among the different race and age groups. A careful and constant watch should be kept for histoplasmosis in all chest hospitals as a certain number of cases may be present. It tends to elude diagnosis unless specially sought as it resembles the clinical picture of tuberculosis or other granulomatous disease. It presents a field for further investigation and research in Malaya.