Together, the whole area represents the largest pig farming area in South East Asia. The epidemic spread quickly and in two to three months, many people lost their lives. Many of those who died were pig handlers and farm owners. At its peak in February 1999, more that 104 lives were taken and many more hospitalised and in coma. It was considered a disaster of sorts in Malaysia. The worst thing about it all was that the health authorities initially did not know what actually caused the deaths or how the disease was spread. It was not until February/March 1999 that they finally nailed it down to a strain of the JE virus. They named it the "Nipah Virus".
In the midst of the spread of this dreadful disease, CREST began a ministry of caring for a small group of 45 affected families evacuated from Bukit Pelanduk and housed temporarily at the old Port Dickson General Hospital. They were mainly pig farm workers who did not have their own alternative housing or could not afford renting it. About 6 out of the 45 families were Chinese and the rest were Indian.
We brought food, clothing, household items, furniture and helped in school uniforms, schools fees, etc. The families told us that had we not come, they might have starved. We continued to help families affected by the epidemic until it was safe for them to return to Bukit Pelanduk. We also brought fun and games to the children and continued practical aid to affected families.