(CNN) — When 29-year-old Nicki Sung was collecting her New Year's Eve coke in a Kuala Lumpur hotel lobby, she wanted something to remember the night by.
She says she placed a watermelon in her hotel room with a pin, then asked hotel staff to get it to a water bowl outside. She says she felt a sharp pain in her hand, then moved to her bed and numbness spread down the wrist.
She went to the hospital, where doctors told her that the pin, which had served no purpose other than to hold her phone, was a thermometer that had become contaminated by the flu virus she had been exposed to, the Telegraph reported. The infection had made its way from her palm into her wrist, and spread through her body to her ankles and fingers.
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On Monday, doctors told her that the surgical cast she had worn for the year might have made it possible for the infection to spread. She was admitted to hospital and given an intravenous drip and bed rest.
The infection was preventable, she was told by doctors. But without wearing the cast, Sung said, she wouldn't have known how she became infected.
She remains in hospital and her condition is currently stable, she told the Telegraph. She is due to leave on Thursday.
'Not something you see every day'
Sung was one of four people infected by poliomyelitis, and although the virus was eradicated from Malaysia in 2000, it was not eradicated in that part of the world. This is one of the reasons it remains a public health emergency of international concern in Malaysia.
The other people who had infections were an 11-year-old and a retired couple, The Daily Mail reported.
"In health terms, they are lucky and others in developing countries are not," said Dr. Siti Farisah Abdul Rahman, director of Kuala Lumpur's Infectious Diseases Centre.
The hot climate -- with only four average days of rain per year -- makes it impossible to sterilize equipment.
"If someone touches someone else's breast, it doesn't take too long (for the virus to get into) the blood," said Dr. Mahmood Ali, a consultant infectious disease physician at MGH Hospital in Boston. "You need something like a thermometer for that."
"The last case of poliomyelitis that we had in Malaysia was in 2001, and we managed to eliminate it in another year," Ali told CNN. "But for this to happen again in my career, I would say it is a 'once in a lifetime' chance."
In the decade since, regular vaccinations have been implemented in Malaysia, and no cases of the virus have been reported in any part of the country.
Sharon Chen, a specialist in the prevention of Polio -- aka Polio vaccinia -- at the Royal National Institute of Blind People in the UK, has worked with the World Health Organization to create a mathematical model to estimate the likelihood of a more widespread epidemiologic outbreak in Malaysia.
She told CNN the odds of another large-scale outbreak were low, but not impossible.
"It's very unlikely that they will have another outbreak. But if there was an outbreak in a city with 1.5 million or so people, the chance for it happening here is high."
The bottom line, experts say, is that anyone can contract the virus by touching a contaminated surface. By wearing a cast on her ankle, it is possible that Sung was unable to be checked to see if it had entered her body by touching other people's bodies.
"That's why it's very important to wash your hands after you touch a surface that is contaminated," said Ali.
Courtesy of Rock Valley Rescue